Coccidioidomycosis, an airborne fungal disease, has made its way to the Western part of the United States. There have been 20,000 cases reported in the Southwest this year, and to top it all off, there's no cure.
The disease is also known as "valley fever" or "cocci" and develops when tiny spores in the soil clog the lungs and eventually travel to the eyes, skin, bones and even brain in some cases. It doesn't harm everyone exposed to it, but because there's no vaccination or cure, it claims roughly 160 victims annually. Though symptoms vary, common characteristics of valley fever are depleted strength and loss of weight.
According to doctors, the increase of frequency is due to changes in climate. Most instances occur in Arizona and California and the spike in cases prompted a federal judge to move 2,600 prisoners out of jails in San Joaquin Valley. The fact that 535 of 640 cases were reported and that hospitalizing inmates for cocci costs over $23 million annually.
A study in Arizona revealed that African-Americans are at a greater risk of contracting the disease; they have a 25 percent chance of catching it whereas whites have only a 6 percent chance.