ContentsSynopsisCodesLook ForDiagnostic PearlsDifferential Diagnosis & PitfallsBest TestsManagement PearlsTherapyReferencesView all Images (92)
Print Captions OFF
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Print Images (92)
Contributors: Neil Mendoza MD, Belinda Tan MD, PhD, Paritosh Prasad MD, Susan Voci MD, Sumanth Rajagopal MD, William Bonnez MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Coccidioidomycosis, also known as desert fever, valley fever, or desert rheumatism, is a deep fungal infection caused by the dimorphic fungi Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii acquired via the respiratory route.

Coccidioidomycosis is endemic in the southwestern United States (with many cases in Arizona, the San Joaquin Valley in California, New Mexico, and west Texas), with sporadic cases in places where the disease is not endemic (some cases may be due to reactivation of infection acquired in an endemic area). In 2016, rates of coccidioidomycosis increased in California, primarily affecting residents of the Central Valley and Central Coast regions. While individuals 40-59 years of age had the highest incidence, the largest increase in incidence (compared with 2015) occurred in persons younger than 40 and, in particular, younger than 20.

Of infected individuals, approximately one-half to two-thirds are asymptomatic. The remaining infected individuals develop an acute or subacute community-acquired pneumonia 1-3 weeks after exposure. The clinical presentation includes dry cough, pleuritic chest pain, myalgia, arthralgia, fever, sweats, anorexia, and weakness. An erythematous rash, erythema multiforme, and erythema nodosum may be seen. Infection is typically self-limited, lasting weeks, and can resolve without therapy. The illness is often indistinguishable from common bacterial or viral pneumonias, although marked fatigue may persist for weeks to months following illness. As a consequence of infection, 5%-10% may develop pulmonary nodules.

Of those symptomatic, 1 in 200 will develop extrapulmonary disease that can spread via hematogenous dissemination to subcutaneous tissues, bone, skin, and meninges. Disease dissemination appears to be more common in those of African or Filipino ancestry than in those of Northern European ancestry but is markedly higher in the immunocompromised host (30%-50% chance of dissemination). Disseminated disease may run a remittent or fulminant course and progress to meningitis, miliary lung granulomas, or hydrocephalus. The mortality rate is greater than 90% after 1 year without therapy. Meningitis requires lifelong therapy to prevent relapse and associated morbidity / mortality.

Primary inoculation coccidioidomycosis is rare, may appear chancriform, and is generally self-limited but may rarely be complicated by meningitis or miliary lung granulomas.

Pregnant women may be at increased risk of severe illness from coccidioidomycosis. Coccidioidomycosis acquired during the latter half of pregnancy is more likely to disseminate.


B38.9 – Coccidioidomycosis, unspecified

60826002 – Coccidioidomycosis

Look For

Subscription Required

Diagnostic Pearls

Subscription Required

Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

Best Tests

Subscription Required

Management Pearls

Subscription Required


Subscription Required


Subscription Required

Last Updated: 08/11/2017
Copyright © 2020 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Captions OFF Print 92 Images Filter Images
View all Images (92)
(with subscription)
Coccidioidomycosis : Chest pain, Cough, Fever, Headache, Night sweats, Smooth papule, Verrucous scaly plaque, Arthralgia, Dyspnea
Clinical image of Coccidioidomycosis
A deep pink nodule on the dorsal hand.
Copyright © 2020 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.