Valley Fever – Danger in the Dirt

Valley Fever Free Tailgate Safety Meeting Topic

Valley fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis, is a fungal infection that can affect the respiratory system. It is found primarily in the southwestern United States, particularly in arid regions such as California, Arizona, and Nevada.

People can contract valley fever by inhaling fungal spores that are present in the soil. The spores are released into the air when the soil is disturbed, such as during construction, farming, or landscaping activities. It is also possible to contract valley fever through direct contact with infected soil or by inhaling dust from contaminated clothing or materials.

Symptoms of valley fever can range from mild to severe and may include fever, cough, fatigue, and body aches. In some cases, the infection can lead to pneumonia or disseminated coccidioidomycosis, which can affect multiple organs and can be life-threatening.

Construction companies working where the disease is endemic must take steps to protect their employees. This would include training, PPE, and dust suppression measures.

To prevent the spread of valley fever, it is important to take precautions when working in areas where the fungus is known to be present. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Wear a mask to help filter out fungal spores.
  2. Avoid breathing in dust or soil particles whenever possible.
  3. Use caution when working in areas with visible dust or soil disturbance.
  4. Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and pants, to reduce the risk of skin exposure.
  5. Wash your hands and clothing regularly to remove any potentially contaminated particles.
  6. Avoid wearing contaminated clothing in your car or at home so that you don’t expose your family.

If you think you may have been exposed to valley fever or if you experience any symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early treatment can help prevent serious complications from the infection.

In conclusion, valley fever is a serious infection that can be contracted by inhaling fungal spores found in soil. To protect yourself, it is important to take precautions when working in areas where the fungus is present and to seek medical attention if you think you may have been exposed or if you experience any symptoms.

Here is a useful Cal/OSHA resource page about valley fever.

Check out our safety meeting topic about wearing respirators at work.

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