Teen diagnosed with valley fever is placed in medically induced coma

A valley woman is spreading awareness about a lung infection that is pretty common in the southwest.

This after her 15-year-old son contracted "Valley Fever" and is now in a medically-induced coma.

Family members have been holding vigil inside the waiting room of Banner Thunderbird Hospital where Dyssian Dupree is being cared for.

"Within two weeks he had been in the hospital twice, and within that amount of time he had gotten worse," said Chicobia Dupree.

Dyssian's mother Chicobia says it started with what she thought was a regular cough. It quickly became worse, her son was showing signs of Valley fever, the last visit to the ER left everyone worried.

"It just seems so strange to see him in a place like this," she said.

"We diagnose now more than we used to in the mid 1990's, 1998 I think was the last number I got 5 per 100,000 were diagnosed with valley fever. In 2013, there were 42 out of 100,000 diagnosed," said Dr. Thomas Erskine.

Dupree's doctor said awareness is the reason the case numbers have risen so much. 2/3 of all valley fever cases nationwide are diagnosed in our state.

"It's treated with antifungals, and depending on whether it's pulmonary or extra-pulmonary and depending on serology it can be anywhere from 3 months of treatment to a lifetime of treatment," he said.

Doctors say valley fever is predominantly attracted through spores in the dir and dust, often left behind by huge dust storms.

Symptoms include chest pain, a fever, and a rash.

"The kids think that it is fun to play in the little dirt devils that are around, they don't realize a mile high storm that is coming through is not fun, it's dangerous," said a family member.

No one knows for sure how Dyssian got so sick and while mom fights for her son's health, she wants everyone to know it can happen to them.

"It's something to definitely be aware of before I got out here, I didn't even know anything about valley fever until they told me my son had it," said Chicobia.

She says her son's lungs are showing improvement. She can only hope the prayers and love bring him through, and the awareness she is spreading saves others from the same fate.

The elderly, babies, and those with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk, according to experts. If you have any of the symptoms, you're encouraged to seek help from a health care provider immediately.
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