Valley fever manifests itself in many ways, which can complicate and delay diagnoses.
If often looks like pneumonia with chest pain, a cough or a low-grade fever. But numerous other symptoms can occur, including painful red bumps that turn brown, vomiting and disturbances of the central nervous system.
The first symptom for Andres Ruffner, 18, was pain in his chest during a run up Tumamoc Hill in June. It spread to his shoulders, and then into his back. He thought it meant he was out of shape.
But the pain didn’t go away. Ruffner’s father took him to an urgent-care clinic, where a doctor suspected pneumonia. But an X-ray revealed that Ruffner’s lung had collapsed, and he was rushed to UA Medical Center, where he spent seven days.
Tests revealed that valley fever was the underlying cause. He ended up losing 20 pounds, had to spend most of the summer resting, and had to miss being on the University High School football team for his senior year.
He’s running track now, but is still getting his speed back.