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Reporting on Health Collaborative

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A 7-year-old girl's childhood is tormented by a disease that government agencies continue to ignore. Last spring, Emily did not have enough energy to dance – let alone walk down the hallway of her family’s home.

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Valley fever starts with the simple act of breathing. In about 100 cases every year nationally the fever kills. That’s more deaths than those caused by hantavirus, whooping cough, and salmonella poisoning combined, yet all of these conditions receive far more attention from public health officials.

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What are the symptoms? Fever, a persistent cough that won’t go away, night sweats, weight loss, and different kinds of rashes. Once a person is infected with the fungus, it does not leave the body.

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Valley fever feeds on heat. And as the average temperature ticks up with each passing decade, experts are concerned that the fungus’ footprint and impact are expanding, as evidenced by a rise in cases in areas far outside the hot spots of the Central Valley of California.

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Our Reporting on Health Collaborative found that valley fever causes more deaths than Hantavirus, hepatitis A, whooping cough and salmonella poisoning combined, yet all of these conditions are more widely known.

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