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Valley fever hospitalizations increase in Calif.

FRESNO, Calif. — The annual rate of hospitalizations for valley fever, a potentially lethal but often misdiagnosed disease, has doubled over the past 12 years in California, according to a study published on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The fever — which is caused by a fungus found in soil and can be contracted by simply breathing in the spores from dust disturbed by wind or other activity — has cost more than $2 billion in hospital charges over about a decade, the study found. The government covered more than 60 percent of those charges.

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The study, conducted by researchers at the California Department of Public Health, was published in the October 2013 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed journal.

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