Via MedicalXpress.com: Dangers of desert dust: New diagnostic tool for valley fever.
On July 5, 2011, a massive wall of dust, ("haboob," in Arabic), blanketed Phoenix, Arizona, creating an awesome spectacle, (or stubborn nuisance, depending on your perspective). Dust storms are a common occurrence in the arid desert environments of the American Southwest.
But windborne dust can be a serious health risk, lofting spores of a sometimes-lethal fungus known as Coccidioides. The resulting ailment, known as coccidioidomycosis or valley fever, has been perplexing researchers since it was first described in 1892. It is currently on an alarming ascent in the United States.
Dr. Stephen Albert Johnston, Krupa Navalkar and their colleagues at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute have been investigating Valley Fever. Navalkar is the lead author of a new study describing a promising strategy known as immunosignaturing, which can provide clinicians with an accurate identification of valley fever, a potentially serious affliction that is often misdiagnosed.
"The incidence of this disease is seemingly low due to non-sensitive diagnostic assays," Navalkar says. As Johnston further notes, "immunosignatures could easily change those false assumptions if made available in the clinical setting."
Navalkar is a researcher in Biodesign's Center for Innovations in Medicine, under the direction of Stephen Albert Johnston, who is also a co-author of the new study.
The group's findings appear in the current issue of the journal ASM Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.