Valley Fever Americas Foundation

A nonprofit organization

$2,005 raised by 33 donors

Can you imagine fighting everyday through extreme weakness and pain to care for your children, to go to work, or just to stay alive?  Valley Fever can do that to you.

Now imagine the frustration of knowing that there is a potential cure sitting on a shelf somewhere just waiting for the dollars needed to produce enough product to test on humans!

My name is Sandra Larson.  I've been a Valley Fever Americas Foundation volunteer for 20 years. Although I've never had VF myself,  learning about the disease from Dr. Hans Einstein and Dr. Tom Larwood, and from the many people I've met whose lives have been changed by Valley Fever, has kept me motivated to pursue a vaccine or a cure to prevent it.    

Coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as Valley Fever, is caused by a fungus that grows in the ground mostly in the southwestern United States.  When the fungus is disturbed, its spores rise up in the air and can float there for months.  While it is true that most people infected by breathing in the spores will not become ill, many are profoundly affected.  And, unfortunately, the available medical treatments have side effects that also can be life threatening.

Valley Fever usually begins by a spore invading the lungs and finding nourishment there.  As the spore grows, it becomes a spherule in which tiny spheres grow.  When the spherule bursts, the tiny spheres inside are released to find a place of their own and the cycle is repeated.  The irritation to the lung can result in pneumonia.  Symptoms may include cough, fever, weight loss, extreme fatigue, night sweats, rash, joint pains and more.  Some victims report thinking they are experiencing a heart attack.  The tiny sphere can escape the lungs and travel throughout the body doing all manner of injury and insult, even to the brain.  This is called dissemination and must be battled for a lifetime.

What does a severe case of Cocci look like?  Several years ago, when I first started volunteering, a Lake Isabella mother of three children called.  She told me she had lost 100 pounds in just a few months and feared she would not survive.  I think about that woman often, hoping she recovered and is able to read this article.

Cheryl Youngblood recalls how relieved she and her children felt when the doctor finally diagnosed her husband's illness as Valley Fever.  They felt confident he would recover.  Instead, they watched him waste away.

Edith Preller made her sister, Elizabeth Mulikin, learn to say and spell "coccidioidomycosis."  She made Elizabeth promise to tell anyone who would listen what Valley Fever can do.  Edith died in 2008 at age 61.

Readers of The Bakersfield Californian followed the story of Jacalynn Hernandez, who developed a hole in her nose that was thought to perhaps be caused by a spider bite.  By the time the cause was identified as Valley Fever, it was simply too late.  She died in 2008, shortly before her 18th birthday.

Tyler Bridgewater was an active Standard Middle School seventh grade student and athlete.  The disease invaded his brain.  He died at age 12.  Animal Planet's "Monsters Inside Me" featured Tyler's story in its Oct. 19, 2012 Season 3, episode 1.

Early diagnosis is believed to be crucial to preventing the development of severe cases such as these.  Every year the VFAF holds an AWARENESS WALK in August.  It is just one way the community can help.  Another is to raise money for research and treatment.

The Valley Fever Americas Foundation was founded in 1995, in part to prevent deaths by helping fund vaccine research.  In 2015, after learning of the potential of nikkomycin Z, the organization's mandate was expanded to include seeking a cure.    A cure is urgently needed by people and even animals, including dogs and horses, now suffering from this disease.

An estimated $2 mllion is needed to have enough NikZ to get to human trials.  Human trials will cost an additional $1.5 million.  If all goes well, researchers believe NikZ could be on the market by 2020.

It is up to us who live in Valley Fever "hot spots," such as Kern County and all of Arizona, to raise funds to learn whether or not NikZ is effective before investors will step in with the rest of the millions that will be required. 

No donation amount is too small:  $20 covers the cost of 200 fraction collector tubes or 77 sample tubes; $125 will buy a case of tubes; an XK16/70 column for purifying NikZ costs about $700; $1100 would pay for one month of analytical services. 

We need your help.  Thank you.

Organization Data


Organization name

Valley Fever Americas Foundation

Tax id (EIN)



Health Children & Family


PO BOX 2752