'I didn’t know what was going on': Woman moves to Arizona, contracts valley fever meningitis

Viewer discretion is advised as photos of the woman's rash are shown several times in the video.

This week is Valley Fever Awareness Week and a Phoenix woman is sharing her battle with the disease. 

Heather Roeber was new to the desert and in good health until valley fever left her with meningitis.

"I woke up in the middle of the night, just doubled over in abdominal pain. I didn’t know what was going on. All I knew was that my legs were on fire," Roeber said.

Pictures show her legs from earlier this year in May. The rash had spread up her legs and to her arms.

Roeber was suffering from valley fever. She said it was tough to find a pulmonary doctor so she had to go to the hospital – where the news got much worse.

"They ordered a lumbar puncture when I was in the hospital, which showed that the fungus had actually spread from my lungs to my central nervous system. I had valley fever meningitis," Roeber said.

Mayo Clinic describes the illness as, "These fungi are commonly found in soil in specific regions. The fungi's spores can be stirred into the air by anything that disrupts the soil, such as farming, construction and wind."

At the University of Arizona, researchers had a breakthrough for a vaccine that can be used to prevent valley fever in dogs – with the hope it can be used for people one day.

"It would be useful to prevent valley fever in dogs, but if we showed that, it would indicate this vaccine would give us lots of information suggesting it should go forward in clinical trials in humans as well," said John Galgiani with the college of medicine at UArizona. "We’re actively working on that now."

Learn more about valley fever here.

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