The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study with reports from 2019 discussing three fungal diseases that are often undiagnosed. Montana contributed to gathering data on coccidioidomycosis.

Coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, and blastomycosis, also known as “Valley Fever,” occur in specific geographic areas within the U.S. The three diseases tend to mimic symptoms of bacterial or viral pneumonia. They have the power to cause disseminated disease and even death.

In 2019, there were roughly 20,000 confirmed cases of coccidioidomycosis, 1,124 confirmed or probable cases of histoplasmosis, and 240 confirmed or probable cases. All three diseases were most common in males. Coccidioidomycosis was four times higher for non-Hispanic Indians and Alaskan Natives.

These three diseases seem to be caused by inhaling fungal spores from dust or soil particles. Each disease is commonly misdiagnosed as a form of pneumonia or lower respiratory tract infection.

Surveillance data for coccidioidomycosis were submitted from more than 20 states, including Montana. The highest cases of this disease were found in Arizona and California. Symptoms of coccidioidomycosis resemble influenza or pneumonia-like illnesses and can also be asymptomatic. The age range of this disease was ages 65-80 in states where the disease was not endemic. 

Symptoms of histoplasmosis are abnormal chest imagery, and evidence of disseminated disease. Histoplasmosis is common in white persons and Hispanic persons. The age range was anywhere from 40 to 80 years old. There were 240 cases of hospitalizations and 20 deaths. 

Symptoms of Blastomycosis are the same as histoplasmosis, with ages ranging from 21 to 80. The disease is most common in white persons and is most frequent in the summer and fall. Approximately 140 patients were hospitalized from the disease, and 20 recorded deaths. 

Continued reporting of these fungal diseases will help better understand trends with each disease. Previous studies show that climate change could contribute to and expand the range of climate-sensitive fungi found in the three diseases.

Expanded research on these diseases can help create a better image of the geographic distribution of diseases that could possibly provide further data to monitor the effects of climate change and the risk of diseases.