YUMA — Desert dwellers are at high risk of becoming infected with a fungus which thrives in the hot and arid Southwest.
The fungus (Coccidioidomycosis) causes valley fever.
According to the Department of Health Services, valley fever represents 59 percent of the total infectious diseases reported in Arizona this year.
The fungus is found in soil and lives just inches to a few feet beneath the surface.
University of Arizona valley fever specialist Dr. John Galgiani said about 100,000 valley fever infections occur in Arizona.
Galgiani said about two thirds of people that get infected have either no illness or an illness so mild that they don't bother to go to a doctor.
The other third have an illness that is typically described as a pneumonia.