Valley Fever: "An Invisible Killer"

"A flesh-eating fungus is expanding its range in the American West - and scientists suspect climate change is driving the spread."

At some point, Erik McIntyre inhaled the fungal spores. He couldn’t see them, or feel them, and it was weeks before he began to lose energy, to drop weight, to cough up blood at a karaoke bar in Arizona.

Now that he’s paralyzed from Valley fever, in a nursing home at age 53, the former U.S. Navy electrician’s day begins at 5 a.m. with a rectal tube procedure to release gas trapped in his stomach. The antifungal injections that left him retching and shaking are less frequent now, and the lesions where the fungus grew on his face and arms have faded to scars. But he knows he will never be cured, or probably walk again.

“I try not to dwell on what could have been,” he said.

McIntyre can imagine the moment he encountered those microscopic spores. He remembers driving across dusty Phoenix suburbs with his windows down. But he can’t be sure."

Joshua Partlow, Veronica Penney and Carolyn Van Houten report for the Washington Post November 13, 2023.


Source: Washington Post, 11/16/2023