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Valley Fever Cases Spike In November

Cases of Valley fever in Arizona spiked last month and researchers say that could indicate an increase next year.

About 900 cases of Valley fever were reported in November — nearly a 50 percent increase from the month before. Caused by a fungus found in the desert soil, the disease often affects the respiratory system. The majority of people infected don’t experience symptoms, but less than five percent can have much more serious complications.

Dr. John Gagliani, director of the University of Arizona’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence, said that lots of precipitation at the end of last year could be driving the uptick now.

“With a heavy rain in the offseason, there’s a bloom of the fungus in the soil and the consequences would be that later when things dry out there are more spores that get in the air and that raises the risk of inhaling them,” he said.

He said past data suggested that the rise in cases could continue into next year.

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Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.