Coccidioides fungus under a microscope.
A fungus responsible for three cases of Valley Fever has been found in the soil of eastern Washington, Boise State Public Radio reports
Soil samples taken from the Tri-Cities area by Centers for Disease Control after three people fell ill with Valley Fever in 2010 and 2011 tested positive for the fungus. CDC had to develop a genetic test to verify the fungus' presence.
Symptoms of Valley Fever include fever, nausea and headache. It can also infect bones, joints and the spine in rare cases.
The fungus, called Coccidioides, is most commonly found in the U.S. Southwest.
"I have been interested in the fungus for years and years, but I only found out last week that we actually had the fungus in this state, apparently established here," said Washington State University mycologist Jack Rogers.
Health officials will now work with doctors in neighboring states to learn if Coccidioides is endemic to arid regions of the Northwest and if it's present in Idaho and Eastern Oregon, as well.