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Science and Innovations

TGen and NAU Develop Rapid Test for Valley Fever

A one-hour test for Valley Fever now has a U.S. patent. The test was developed by scientists at the Translational Genomics Research Institute and Northern Arizona University.

This is the first direct test for Valley Fever. It identifies DNA from the soil fungus that causes the disease in samples of a patient’s respiratory fluid.  

TGen geneticist David Engelthaler says the test is needed because doctors often misdiagnose Valley Fever. “Here’s the first time that we really have an ability for doctors to look for the presence of the Valley Fever fungus in patients right away, and then they can better treat these patients, which they’re not able to do now,” Engelthaler says.  

The test has been licensed to a company in Utah, which will make it available to hospitals and veterinary clinics after approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  

Valley Fever affects thousands of people in Arizona and California every year and can be fatal. 

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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