January 5, 2005
Valley fever affects thousands of people in the Valley and Tucson each year, and many people don’t know from what they are suffering, said a Scottsdale infectious disease doctor. Those who do now have help.
Mayo Clinic Scottsdale has opened the Valley’s first multidisciplinary clinic bringing together a variety of specialists to treat patients with the disease.
Located on the fifth floor of Mayo Clinic Hospital at 5777 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, the clinic offers patients a variety of different experts through one program to quickly determine the extent of their disease and how best to treat it, said Dr. Janis Blair, chairwoman of Mayo’s infectious disease division.
"We can quickly bring together a lot of thoughts and multiple points of view, and the patients can get a fairly comprehensive view in a short time," she said. "We have infectious disease doctors, lung doctors, dermatology doctors, and chest surgeons available," in the same place at the same time.
Cocci fungus can resemble the flu, or a bad virus. People who contract it might suffer from fever, headaches, joint and muscle pains, dry cough and sometimes a rash.
Many area hospitals and clinics treat valley fever through their infectious disease departments, but do not offer the same comprehensive care, she said.
Valley fever has increased in the last few years.
There were 3,826 reported cases in Arizona in 2004, 2,836 of them in Maricopa County, said Laura Nathan of the Arizona Department of Public Health.
There were 2,684 cases in the state in 2003, 2,019 in Maricopa County.
Physicians usually begin to suspect valley fever when symptoms persist for several weeks or longer, Blair said.
About 60 percent to 70 percent of patients have no symptoms and don’t know they have the disease; the other 30 percent to 40 percent suffer from achy, flulike symptoms. "It’s probably one of the most common infectious diseases we treat here," said Dr. Steven Falaf of Scottsdale Healthcare.
"In a given week, I might see 30 patients with valley fever, and a couple of them are new."
Falaf said many cases of the disease go unreported. "Most of the patients in Scottsdale are treated either by infectious disease specialists or pulmonologists, and sometimes both," he said. For information on Mayo Clinic’s program, call (480) 342-0115.