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UA Valley Fever Center for Excellence Celebrates 20th Anniversary with New Website Launch

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

This year the University of Arizona Valley Fever Center for Excellence celebrates its 20th anniversary since its establishment in 1996. The center was created by the Arizona Board of Regents to further advance the research and eradication of Valley Fever as well as to develop public awareness for the disease. The incapacitating, sometimes-fatal respiratory illness is caused by the Coccidioides species of fungus, endemic primarily to soils of the U.S. Southwest and border states in Mexico.

The Center, housed at the UA BIO5 Institute, has been successful in both endeavors. Achievements include progress in the development of both a possible cure and a vaccine, the free distribution of Valley fever tutorials to anyone interested in learning more about the disease and, most recently, the launch of a new website (www.vfce.arizona.edu) just in time for the 14th Annual Valley Fever Awareness Week, Nov. 12-20.

With new features designed for the public and medical professionals, the website is adaptable to mobile devices and features a much improved organization of data, images, videos, tutorials and other resources.

“I hope people now are able to find the information they’re looking for much quicker than before” says Bianca Sierra, the UA Valley Fever Center for Excellence student office assistant who managed the website transition. “We really have so much valuable information on the website and awesome learning tools, but in the old website they were overlooked. They’re more accessible now.”

The Valley Fever Tutorial, one of the best resources the Center provides for primary care professionals and the public, is easy to find on the website. People can request a free paper copy of the tutorial, sent via mail, by emailing vfever@email.arizona.edu.

The website has an improved “Find a Doctor” page that lists doctors in Tucson and Phoenix who are part of the Valley Fever Alliance of Arizona Clinicians (VFAAC). Clinicians with VFAAC have been selected by the alliance’s board as physicians with experience with Valley fever who board members would trust to care for their own patients.

The “Research in Valley Fever in Dogs” page includes information about the results of past studies, as well as information on current, ongoing studies and eligibility requirements for those interested in having their dogs or other pets participate. The Valley Fever in Dogs content is a robust resource for pet owners seeking information on this condition.

Additions to the education section of the website include a free Valley Fever CME course, and two pages: “Clinical Care Webinars” and “Educational Clinical Images.” The CME course was created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is designated for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. The webinars page has seven webinars hosted by internationally recognized Valley fever expert John N. Galgiani, MD, founding director of the UA Valley Fever Center for Excellence. Recorded a few years ago, the information that Dr. Galgiani presents remains relevant and accurate today. The images page provides a variety of images pertaining to Valley fever, several of which are donated for general use by Steven L. Oscherwitz, MD, a physician with Southern Arizona Infectious Disease Specialists in Tucson, for use as learning tools by medical professionals.

The website’s research section has improved pages such as “Publications & Presentations,” which includes reports such as the Valley Fever Annual Report by the Arizona Department of Health Services and other published research findings about the prevalence of Valley fever. The presentations are done by researchers who have reported their research findings at Valley Fever Awareness Week events in the past. A new page in the research section is “Ongoing Work at the VFCE,” created for those interested in knowing the Center’s most recent activities.

There also is a page dedicated to Valley Fever Awareness Week, which is updated with new events as soon as they are scheduled and contains the Governor’s Proclamation of this event.

Chief among these is the Annual Farness Lecture for health professionals, which is hosted by the UA Department of Medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson as part of its Medicine Grand Rounds lecture series. On Wednesday, Nov. 16, noon-1 p.m., Mayo Clinic Scottsdale infectious diseases specialist Janis E. Blair, MD, will discuss “Coccidioidomycosis and Transplantation” at the 21st Annual Farness Lecture. It will be held at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, Room 5403, 1501 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson. Her talk will be livestreamed via webcast at this link. To download and share a flyer on the lecture, click here.

Dr. Blair was one of 16 physicians—including three from the UA—who served on a 16-member panel led by Dr. Galgiani that updated the “2016 Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Coccidioidomycosis,” released this past summer.

A Public Health CME Course in Phoenix for health professionals on “Valley Fever, Zika & Immunizations,” sponsored by the Maricopa County Medical Society, was postponed until January. Check the society’s website for details on its rescheduling: www.mcmsonline.com

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs almost 5,000 people, has nearly 1,000 faculty members and garners more than $126 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: http://uahs.arizona.edu. Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn

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