Symptoms of valley fever (coccidioidomycosis)

Learn about the symptoms of valley fever, what to look for and what to do if you become ill.

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What are the symptoms of valley fever?

Most people who develop valley fever have mild symptoms or none at all. Of those who experience a mild illness, many will recover on their own.

Signs of illness usually appear 1 to 4 weeks after exposure to the fungus.

Symptoms are often similar to the flu and include: 

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • night sweats
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • muscle aches or joint pain
  • a red, spotty rash on your upper body or legs

The symptoms of valley fever can last weeks to months.

Symptoms can be severe in rare cases for people who are in a high-risk group for valley fever. Some people with severe valley fever develop long-term lung problems. These problems can occur months or years after you were first exposed to the Coccidioides fungus.

Less than 1% of people with valley fever will have problems with their:

  • nervous system (brain and spinal cord)
  • skin
  • bones and joints

Once you have valley fever, your body will develop immunity (be protected) against it. It is extremely rare to suffer valley fever more than once in your life.

What do you do if you become ill?

If you develop symptoms when you are travelling or after you return to Canada, call your health care provider. Tell them:

  • where you have been travelling or living
  • your full travel history, including whether you were exposed to soil and dust
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