No Consistent Link Between Dust Storms and Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)

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Abstract

Dust storms, such as those associated with haboobs and strong regional winds, are frequently assumed to cause increases in cases of Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis). The disease is caused by inhaling arthroconidia of Coccidioides fungi that, after being disturbed from semi-desert subsoil, have become airborne. Fungal arthroconidia can be transported in low-wind conditions as well as in individual dust events, but there is no reliable evidence that all or most dust storms consistently lead to subsequent increases in coccidioidomycosis cases. Following a review of the relevant literature, this study examines the relationship between dust storms and coccidioidomycosis cases to determine if there is a consistent and general association between them. All recorded dust storms from 2006 to 2020 in and near the Phoenix area of Maricopa County, Arizona and the Bakersfield area of Kern County, California were used in a compositing analysis (superposed epoch analysis) of subsequent coccidioidomycosis cases in each area. Analyses of monthly and weekly disease case data showed no statistical differences in the patterns of coccidioidomycosis cases following dust storms versus non-dust storm conditions, for the entire data set as well as for seasonal subsets of the data. This study thoroughly analyzes post-dust storm coccidioidomycosis cases for a large set of dust storms, and it confirms and expands upon previous literature, including a recent study that measured airborne arthroconidia and found no consistent links connecting wind and dust conditions to increases in coccidioidomycosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GH000504
JournalGeoHealth
Volume5
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Valley fever
  • climate
  • coccidioidomycosis
  • disease
  • dust storms
  • haboobs
  • health
  • weather

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Epidemiology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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