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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #338458

Title: Relating coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) incidence via to soil moisture conditions

item COOPERSMITH, E. - University Of New Hampshire
item BELL, JESSE - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
item BENEDICT, K. - Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) - United States
item SCHRIBER, J. - Emory University
item MCCOTTER, O. - Chinese Center For Disease Control
item Cosh, Michael

Submitted to: American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/25/2017
Publication Date: 3/25/2017
Citation: Coopersmith, E., Bell, J., Benedict, K., Schriber, J., Mccotter, O., Cosh, M.H. 2017. Relating coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) incidence via to soil moisture conditions. American Geophysical Union.

Interpretive Summary: Soil moisture monitoring has many different applications, ranging from weather and climate, to agriculture and crop yield estimation. Current research has expanded these applications to human health. A study conducted in the southwestern U.S. has revealed how soil moisture impacts the incidence of Valley Fever, which is caused by a soil-borne fungus. There is a correlation between incidence and the moisture status cycles in the previous months and years. This research can lead to improved predictions of Valley Fever incidence and allow for improved planning of public warnings and guidance.

Technical Abstract: Coccidioidomycosis (also called Valley fever) is caused by a soil-borne fungus, Coccidioides spp., in arid regions of the southwestern United States. Though some who develop infections from this fungus remain asymptomatic, others develop respiratory disease as a consequence. Less commonly, severe illness and death can occur when the infection spreads to other regions of the body. Previous analyses have attempted to connect the incidence of coccidioidomycosis to broadly-available climatic measurements, such as precipitation or temperature. However, with the limited availability of long-term, in-situ soil moisture datasets, it has not been feasible to perform a direct analysis of the relationships between soil moisture levels and coccidioidomycosis incidence on a larger temporal and spatial scale. Utilizing in situ soil moisture gauges throughout the southwest from the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) and a model with which to extend those estimates, this work connects periods of higher and lower soil moisture in Arizona and California between 2002 and 2014 to the reported incidence of coccidioidomycosis. The results indicate that in both states, coccidioidomycosis incidence is related soil moisture levels from previous summers and falls. Stated differently, a higher number of coccidioidomycosis cases are likely to be reported if previous bands of months have been atypically wet or dry, depending on the location.