Kern County Public Health is now offering skin tests for Coccidioides to the public. This skin test can detect whether you have developed an immune response to the fungus Coccidioides, the cause of Valley fever. “This is a tool that we are excited to offer residents who want to know about their personal history with Valley Fever” says Matt
Constantine, Director of Kern County Public Health Services. “We want to empower residents to make the most informed decisions about their health.”
Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is an illness caused by a fungus that lives in the soil and dirt. People and animals can get sick by breathing in spores of the fungus. About 60% of infected people will not get sick. People who do get sick can have fever, cough, chest pain, muscle or joint aches, tiredness, headaches, weight loss and rash. In severe infections, the fungus can infect the brain, joints, bone, skin, or other organs. In rare cases, infection can lead to death. Most people who get Valley Fever fully recover and do not get this disease again; however, those with severe infections may need medication for several months.
Although the skin test is not used to make a Valley Fever diagnosis (a healthcare provider must order a blood test for Valley Fever), it is a tool that can provide information about a person’s medical history and provide insight to their risk of getting Valley Fever in the future. No physician referral is required to get the skin test and it is available to the community at our Public Health Clinic located at 1800 Mt. Vernon Avenue for a cost of $77.00. The test involves getting a small injection on the inside of your forearm, similar to a skin test for tuberculosis. 48 hours later, clinic staff measure the size of the bump to determine the result.
A positive test result means that you have an immune response to Coccidioides because of a past or current Coccidioides infection. Some people with a positive test result have been sick with Valley fever, which can cause a flu-like illness and other symptoms, but many people with a positive test have not had symptoms from the infection. A positive skin test generally means that you are immune to Coccidioides and will likely not get Valley Fever in the future.