The Valley Fever Collaborative is an organization that was created in 2021 to coordinate activities addressing the economic and public health problems that Valley fever poses to the state of Arizona and beyond. As you can see by the graph below, Arizona contributes largely to the number of reported Valley fever cases.
Valley fever, scientifically known as coccidioidomycosis, is a fungal infection caused by the inhalation of spores from the soil-dwelling fungus Coccidioides. Primarily endemic to arid regions of the southwestern United States, particularly the San Joaquin Valley of California and the desert areas in Arizona, this silent threat affects thousands of people each year. However, recent advancements in Valley fever research have brought hope for improved diagnostics, treatment options, and risk and prevention strategies.
The Valley Fever Collaborative (VFC) involves a group of scientists, healthcare professionals, and public health agencies working together with affected communities. Collaborations between researchers and clinicians are essential for translating scientific discoveries into practical applications that benefit patients. Moving forward, continued investment in research, funding, and knowledge-sharing is necessary to advance our understanding of Valley fever, develop new treatment options, and ultimately strive towards its prevention and eradication.
This area will highlight members of the VFC that continue to work together developing treatments and solutions for Valley fever.
Prevention is always better than a cure, and the development of an effective vaccine against Valley fever could have a significant impact on public health and the economy. Researchers in the Valley Fever Collaborative are making strides in this area for both humans and dogs. Although vaccine development is a complex and time-consuming process, the ongoing efforts hold great promise for preventing future cases of Valley fever. Lisa Shubitz, a veterinarian, and Marc Orbach, a fungal geneticist and molecular biologist, both from The University of Arizona (UArizona), are VFC members that are making progress in the development of a canine vaccine. Orbach's study of Coccidioides virulence factors led to the discovery and development of the delta-cps1 vaccine against coccidioidomycosis. Shubitz' group worked on mouse and dog studies to show that it is highly effective at preventing Valley fever in both species.