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New Mexico officials urge public to be cautious of valley fever

Dust storms could possibly heighten the risk of valley fever in New Mexico, according to state officials.

Valley fever is an infectious disease caused by fungi living underneath the dirt. If you inhale it, it can get trapped in your lungs. You may experience flu like systems like coughing and fever.

While very few cases are deadly, the disease never goes away and needs to be treated.

State Climatologist Dave Dubois told ABC-7 that Las Cruces is experiencing its 15th driest year out of 120 years. Whilehe can’t say if there will be a spike in valley fever for 2016, there were 39 cases in New Mexico two years ago.

It’s unclear what areas are more vulnerable to the fungi that carries the disease. Dubois urged the public to be aware while around high winds and dry soil.

“All it takes is one breath or that one spore to cause it,” Dubois said. “So it’s not a type of thing where I’d cause hysteria, that’s what I don’t want. But if you’re outside doing yard work shoveling dirt or in construction is to wear protection, like a face mask.”

Valley fever is not contagious. Dubois says it’s under reported and the New Mexico Department of Public Health wants more people to be aware of it.

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