Tsang CA. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010;16. [Epub ahead
Nearly half of patients with coccidioidomycosis in an
Arizona cohort visited an ED and incurred a total cost of treatment that was
higher than previously estimated, according to study results.
Researchers from the Arizona Department of Health
Services said the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists case
definition for coccidioidomycosis requires laboratory and clinical criteria,
but that Arizona uses only laboratory criteria. The current study assessed the
validity of the Arizona approach and characterized the burden of the infection
in the state.
Health officials conducted a population-based
investigation and conducted a telephone interview of every tenth
coccidioidomycosis case patient from a cohort of 5,664 patients reported
between January 2007 and February 2008. There were 493 patients interviewed.
The interview included questions about the signs and
symptoms of coccidioidomycosis, health care-seeking behavior, medical treatment
information and the effects of the disease on the daily lives of patients. For
patients younger than 18 years, a parent or guardian answered the questions or
was present for the interview.
Defining symptoms included fever, cough, sore throat,
chills, dyspnea, chest pain, hemoptysis, headache, rash, stiff neck, myalgias
Awareness of disease
An average of 11 days (interquartile range [IQR]
231 days) was required to seek health care after onset of symptoms, and
the time from seeking health care to diagnosis was 23 days (IQR 674
Individuals aware of coccidioidomycosis before seeking
treatment received earlier diagnoses than individuals who were not aware of the
disease (median 20 days [IQR 656 days] vs. 25 days [IQR 7144 days];
P=.04) and to request testing for Coccidioides spp. (95% CI,
1.03.2), according to the results.
Clinical case definition criteria were met by 95% of
patients interviewed. Three percent reported no symptoms and 2% had only one
Symptoms included fatigue (84%), cough (67%), dyspnea
(59%) and fever (54%). Symptoms lasted 120 days overall, 42 days for patients
who had recovered at the time of interview and 157 days for those who had not
recovered at the time of interview.
Three-quarters of patients reported that the illness
affected performance of usual daily activities at some point.
Effect on system
An average of two visits to a health care provider was
required before testing occurred, and 26% of patients visited a health care
provider more than 10 times.
Forty-six percent of patients reported at least one
visit to an ED, and 23% initially sought care in an ED. Overnight hospital
stays were reported by 41% of interviewees; the average hospital stay was 6
days (range 0306 days, IQR 410 days).
A primary diagnosis of coccidioidomycosis occurred in
1,093 hospital visits, accounting for $59 million in hospital charges and a
median of $33,000 per coccidioidomycosis-related visit. The 1,735 visits with a
primary or secondary diagnosis of coccidioidomycosis incurred a cost of $86
million with a median charge of $30,000 per visit, which is higher than
previous estimates, according to the researchers.
Antifungals were prescribed to 61% of patients, and
antibacterials were prescribed to 60% of patients.
These findings suggest that eliminating clinical
criteria from the coccidioidomycosis case definition allows for simpler
surveillance methods and requires fewer resources yet still accurately
estimates prevalence and incidence of the disease in endemic regions, the
researchers wrote. They noted that education campaigns could decrease delays to
diagnosis, which would, in turn, aid antimicrobial stewardship and relieve