LAS VEGAS (FOX5) – The dust and dirt settled after the valley’s major wind storm, and health officials have been warning the public about Valley Fever.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Valley Fever is a fungus that is in the soil. When wind or construction push the dirt into the air, people unknowingly breathe it in. It creates flu-like symptoms and can be deadly in rare cases.
"It took them six days to figure out what was wrong with me,” said valley resident Peter Seven. “They finally found out through the CDC that it was Valley Fever and it had spread through my body and had eaten away at my bones."
Seven said he went to the doctor with abdominal pain. An X-ray revealed spinal lesions.
“They thought it was cancer,” said Seven. He said he underwent two biopsies to confirm his mystery illness wasn’t cancer, but Valley Fever.
"I lost 114 pounds. It was a life stopper. I was not able to work. Unable to manage my affairs from the hospital. I lost my apartment," he said.
Seven claimed he spent about five months in the hospital.
Valley Fever is rare but doctors said Seven’s case is even more rare.
“Probably less than five percent of people who get exposed to all these things will actually develop problems," said Dr. Simhean Lee with Pulmonary Associates Inc. "And a majority of them will recover within a few weeks to few months even without treatments. But a very small number, probably one percent will get a very bad problem."
Dr. Lee said people most at risk are those with asthma and compromised immune systems. Dr. Lee recommended people seek out their health care providers for questions and to stay inside on especially windy days.
Two years later, Seven said he is healthy and working. But he has a warning for others.
"It is so real and it has the capability of changing your life to the point that it can take your life," he said.