Post 4.9 - Ya Give Me Fevah

Roughly 75% of the US population lives east of the Mississippi River. This portion of the country, on the whole, is wetter, greener, and at a lower elevation than the western portion of the continental states. Just like humans, our pets are susceptible to different kinds of illnesses that are specific to region.

For example, when I lived in the Northeast, the population of wild deer resulted in a large population of deer ticks, and some form of preventative measure was a monthly ritual to protect the dogs. Here in the Southwest, we have deer in the higher, mountainous elevations, but not in the desert, where I live -- so this ritual became almost immediately unnecessary.

One of the unique pet maladies for my region of Arizona is a condition called "Valley Fever", also called "California Disease", "Desert Rheumatism", or its official name Coccidioidomycosis. This is also one of those unique diseases that also impacts humans. It is not curable, which makes it a particularly nasty situation, but some symptoms can be controlled with medication. Our dogs take annual blood tests to see if they have succumbed, but in six years, so far, so good.

And the story goes -- from our vet -- that this particular fungus grew from human remains buried in the region. I don't know if that's true or just an Arizona ghost story, but as the Wikipedia article points out, incidences are increased during our rainy seasons. In Arizona, our rains are often accompanied by a dust storm which covers everything.

Your vet should know which illnesses are specific to a region or of greatest concern, based not only on where the vet is located but where you reside. If you're not sure or would like to explore additional information on your own, don't be afraid to do a little research and ask about it. The only way our vets can become more knowledgeable about unusual conditions is to encounter them or to learn to be on guard for them.

Our youngest and oldest dogs are due for their Valley Fever tests this week.

Have a question or a suggestion for a future topic? E-mail me at facetsblog@gmail.com.

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