Congressional leaders think medical research into a growing threat to pets and people alike will soon become a thing of the past in the American Southwest.
The Congressional Valley Fever Task Force met with NFL legend and University of Arizona standout Rob Gronkowski Tuesday to raise awareness about Valley Fever.
The disease is a fungal infection caused by Coccidioides, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is known to live in the soil in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico and Central and South America. It can be fatal to dogs and causes a rash, coughing, fatigue, fever and other symptoms in humans. If allowed to spread, the infection can be fatal in humans as well. Those infected are often prescribed antifungal medications for the rest of their lives.
Gronkowski has partnered with Anivive Lifesciences, which submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture the first vaccine for Valley Fever.
“Ralphie and I enjoyed our time in D.C. meeting with members of Congress and other government officials,” said Gronkowski, referring to his dog. “The crazy amount of support that they are showing Anivive's preventive treatment for Valley Fever is very encouraging to all pet owners! I look forward to continue utilizing my resources in championing the fight against Valley Fever.”
Co-chairmen Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., stressed the importance of mitigating the fungal infection that CDC data shows infected more than 20,000 people in the U.S. Most of those infections came from Arizona.
“It's stunning to think that just 10 years ago, the American public knew little about Valley Fever and the devastating effects this disease can inflict upon our communities, particularly in Arizona. What once was misdiagnosed as cancer can now be correctly identified and treated as Valley Fever,” said Congressman Schweikert.
The Arizona Republican and McCarthy sponsored legislation in 2021 that funded research into Valley Fever.
“Great progress continues to be made toward developing better treatments and finding a cure for Valley Fever, including a vaccine for dogs that's projected to be released next year,” said Speaker McCarthy.