Valley fever is difficult to diagnose solely on the basis of signs and symptoms, which are usually vague and nonspecific, or on a chest X-ray, which can't distinguish valley fever from other lung diseases. Instead, a definitive diagnosis depends on finding evidence of coccidioides organisms in tissue, blood or other body secretions. For that reason, you're likely to have one or more of the following tests:
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- Sputum smear or culture. These tests check a sample of the matter that's discharged while coughing (sputum) for the presence of coccidioides organisms.
- Blood tests. Through a blood test, your doctor can check for antibodies against the fungus that causes valley fever.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9110670. Accessed March 20, 2012.
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- Coccidioidomycosis (San Joaquin fever; valley fever). The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious_diseases/fungi/coccidioidomycosis.html. Accessed March 21, 2012.
- McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2012. 51st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=19953. Accessed March 20, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012:5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..00012-4--sc0190&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&uniqId=326705730-3#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..00012-4--sc0190. Accessed March 20, 2012.
- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 10, 2012.