How Valley Fever Can Be Contracted In A Workplace

Valley fever is highly detrimental to workers. Employers who fail to create a safe working environment can be liable for contracting the disease.
Valley Fever
Photo by Eddie Kopp on Unsplash

Valley fever is a condition brought on by a fungus that thrives in dirt and soil. It is commonly referred to as “cocci” or “coccidioidomycosis.” It can only be acquired through the inhalation of fungus spores.

A person who is affected cannot spread the illness to someone else.

The fungus only exists in specific regions of the United States and South America. These areas are referred to as endemic areas. 

What Areas Is Valley Fever Predominant In The US?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fungus that causes Valley fever is found in the soil in areas of Mexico, Central America, and South America, as well as the southwest United States and south-central Washington State.

Certain kinds of workers in these endemic areas are quite vulnerable to this disease. Exposure to the fungus is usually mild, but it might be fatal in some cases, leading to disability or even death.

The workers who are likely to contract Valley fever are as follows:

  • Archeological workers
  • Agricultural workers
  • Construction workers
  • Wildland firefighters
  • Geologists
  • Military personnel/trainees
  • Workers in mining, gas, and oil extraction

If workers contract Valley Fever due to the nature of their jobs, they may have the right to seek relief in a court of law. Such workers can use legal animation to illustrate the working environment and depict the movement of the fungus from the soil into the lungs.  

Valley Fever
Photo by Eddie Kopp on Unsplash

Forms of Valley Fever and Their Debilitating Effects

Most Valley fever sufferers recover independently in a few weeks to months, although some require antifungal treatments.

Certain groups are more likely to suffer from severe illness due to a weakened immune system.

Here are the forms of coccidioidomycosis:

  1. Acute coccidioidomycosis 

Coccidioidomycosis, early or acute, is frequently benign with few to no symptoms. Signs and symptoms may appear one to three weeks after exposure.

Minor to severe symptoms can include a fever, cough, exhaustion, shortness of breath, headaches, chills, night sweats, joint pain, and a red, spotty rash that is typically on the lower legs but can also appear on the chest, arms, and back.

  1. Chronic coccidioidomycosis

If the initial valley fever infection doesn’t fully resolve, it may become a chronic form of pneumonia known as chronic coccidioidomycosis. People with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to this variant.

Low-grade fever, weight loss, blood-tinged sputum, lung nodules, and chest pain are the signs and symptoms.

  1. Disseminated coccidioidomycosis 

This is the most severe type of coccidioidomycosis. It happens when the infection leaves the lungs and enters other body parts.

Depending on the body areas involved, disseminated disease signs and symptoms can include nodules, ulcers, and skin lesions that are more severe than the rash that can occasionally occur with other types of the illness.

They also include painful swelling in the joints, especially the ankles or knees, lesions in the skull, spine, or other bones and meningitis (infections of the membranes and fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord.)

An instance of disseminated coccidioidomycosis is seen in the case of Ramirez v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Company. The plaintiff was exposed to the fungus during his work as a long-distance truck driver. The fungus later disseminated in his eyes and ultimately led to the loss of the eye. 

What is the Attitude of the Court to a Work-Related Valley Fever Case?

Valley fever can pose severe harm to people and is, therefore, not taken negligibly as long as the necessary facts are proven.

The fact that must be proven is that the person contracted valley fever because of occupational duties. If a person cannot prove that the infection is due to the job, the employer will not be liable in court.

In the case of Berry v. Workmen’s Comp. App. Bd., the infection became visible after the plaintiff injured his knee during his employment. His knee became swollen, painful, and filled with fluids because the infection had spread through the bloodstream to different parts of his body. 

Fortunately, the case was decided in favor of the petitioner since he could prove that the infection occurred during his employment. 

As stated earlier, coccidioidomycosis can be proven in court using legal animation

Conclusion

Depending on its content and many other factors, legal animation can be a very reliable resource in court. However, it is essential to consult a good legal animation company to get an accurate animation for a coccidioidomycosis case.  

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