Health official: Risk of "Valley Fever" after mudslides is low

Dry, dusty conditions from Montecito mudslides

MONTECITO, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department says the risk of infection from Valley Fever (cocci) is low, but residents should still be on alert.

Cocci is a fungus which is regularly found in Kern, Tulare and San Luis Obispo Counties. The fungus can also be found in the air as spores and can be inhaled into the lungs. It can take weeks to months for symptoms to begin.

Due to dry and dusty conditions from the recent mudflows in Montecito, county health officials have fielded a large amount of calls regarding Valley Fever.

Santa Barbara County Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean said irritation to the lungs and eyes caused by dust is a bigger concern but anyone afraid of Valley Fever has options. 

“The risk of acquiring Cocci is low, though not zero, in Southern Santa Barbara County. People who are concerned about the dust should wear an N95 mask and take measures to protect their lungs in dusty conditions,” Dr. Dean said.

Most cases of Valley Fever are mild and symptoms often go away before medical care is sought. 

Severe cases can be successfully treated with anti-fungal therapy. Contact your doctor for more information.

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