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    Old 04-08-2006, 09:37 AM   #1
    Grand Rapids
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    Valley Fever Questions

    What a great message board here!!! Has anyone here heard of, or experienced lung nodules as a result of coccidioidomycosis (a.k.a. "Valley Fever" which is caused by a mold spore that is prevalent in the southwest, especially Arizona) From what I have learned so far about Valley Fever, I am amazed that it isn't more widely publicized. The infection in a large number of cases can cause a significant number of medical issues in all the organs, skin and bones. It starts with severe flu like symtoms that can last for months along with severe fatigue.

    I had a routine annual physical with a chest x-ray that showed a small nodule 2 weeks ago. A following CT scan showed that nodule was 1.9 x 2.0 cm in my lower right lung and also found a smaller 4 mm nodule on my upper left lung. There is no involvement of adjacent tissue, thankfully.

    My pulmonolgist tested me for coccidioidomycosis and the test was positive for the IgG antibody and a comp fixation of 1:4. Apparently, the coccidioidomycosis can produce lung nodules that mimic lung cancer nodules. There are a significant number of documented cases where this has occurred. In addition, it frequently causes ongoing flu like symptoms and fatigue that can last for months - something from which I suffered all during January February and much of March. Tourists are most susceptible to infections because residents tend to develop immunities.

    I had a biopsy of the larger nodule, but the results were “inconclusive”,

    The docs here in Michigan don’t seem to give much, if any, credence to a connection between my lung nodules and the Valley Fever. I am awaiting PET scan results but the data I have seen so far suggests that won’t be conclusive for malignancy versus coccidioidomycosis.

    I’m afraid I am facing thoracic surgery for a biopsy.

    If anyone has any comments, advice or a story of their own, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Tom

     
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    Old 04-08-2006, 06:24 PM   #2
    kehorner
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    Re: Valley Fever Questions

    It's not generally publicized nationally, because it really doesn't exist in most areas of the country. It is well-known to the locals in areas where it is endemic, because it's something that exists there so everybody knows about it.

    It's actually a fairly low-risk infection, too. Because the spores live in the soil, the people with highest risk of catching it are people like construction workers, archaeologists, and other people who go around disturbing the dirt. The average tourist or businessperson has a very low risk of contracting the disease, especially if they are only in the endemic area for a short time.

    50% of the people who are infected never show any symptoms at all. The other 50% may have flu-like symptoms or a rash. 5-10% develop chronic pulmonary problems. Only 3% develop life-threatening complications (disseminated form).

    So the chronic pulmonary form can lead to pulmonary nodules or peripheral thin-walled cavities.

    The answer to your question then, is yes, pulmonary nodules can be caused by cocci. You might ask that your doctors consult with specialists from the CDC or a medical school from the southwest where they would be more familiar with the disease. Of course, just because nodules can be caused by cocci, doesn't mean that you should just ignore your nodules because you can't get a conclusive diagnosis on them. But you should have a doctor who knows what they are doing.

     
    Old 04-11-2006, 04:55 AM   #3
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    Re: Valley Fever Questions

    Thanks for the information and advice Kehoner.

    I neglected to mention in my earlier posting than I was in Arizona for two weeks last March and then again for a week in November. I believe I contracted the cocci (Valley Fever) on my November trip.

    After finding the nodules in my lungs, the pulmonologist also ordered a PET scan and I received the results today. There was not any unusual uptake of F 18 FDG in the nodule (or anywhere else) I am celebrating!!! And I am thanking God for hearing the prayers of my friends, my family and myself these past two and a half weeks.

    Just further validation that not every lung nodule is malignant. Now that said, the radiologist did caution that “bronchioloaveolar cell carcinoma has a very low metabolic activity, but the lack of radiotracer uptake is somewhat reassuring in that this very well could represent a post infectious granuloma”. (Like VF)

    I certainly have more to do to get through this whole thing, but now I can focus on the VF. My symptoms have continued to improve and I am feeling better each day without medication at this point. I will see the Infectious Disease doc next week to see what the next steps are.

    Right now though, I am reflecting on our risen savior and God’s love. He does indeed listen to those who reach out to Him.


    Happy Easter

    (Just a note on the PET Scan – My research shows that the PET can be positive with VF nodules under certain conditions. So please don’t anyone assume that a hot PET automatically means malignancy)

     
    Old 06-11-2006, 07:46 AM   #4
    Grand Rapids
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    Re: Valley Fever Questions

    Just an update. I had my folowup CT scan this week after 3 months and the results show the nodule problem in my lungs hasn't gotten bigger, not smaller. I was hoping it would all go away, but I am happy with not getting bigger.

     
    Old 06-11-2006, 11:42 AM   #5
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    Post Re: Valley Fever Questions

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Grand Rapids
    Just an update. I had my folowup CT scan this week after 3 months and the results show the nodule problem in my lungs hasn't gotten bigger, not smaller. I was hoping it would all go away, but I am happy with not getting bigger.
    Hi Grand Rapids,
    Glad to hear your results have remained stable. I am familiar with Valley Fever and I believe it is a little more prevalent than the medical community lets on. I also think that it's not just limited to construction workers etc., I think it is spread pretty easily when the dirt is kicked up ( as with farm machinery) and you're exposed for example; by driving down a country road through these dust storms with windows down. I was wondering if you were aware of a website on Valley fever by Ron Runsvold. I recommend you look for it. Best wishes.

     
    Old 06-13-2006, 06:45 AM   #6
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    Re: Valley Fever Questions

    I had never heard of it either, but another family in the ICU waiting room has a loved one with it. They used to live in Arizona and now live in Panama City, FL... so the doctors here don't know much about it, either.

    They've been telling me about how it can sit dormant in the lungs for a long time before being triggered into causing problems.

    Best of luck to you!

     
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