Natural History of Disseminated Coccidioidomycosis: Examination of the Veterans Affairs-Armed Forces Database

Derek J. Bays, George R. Thompson, Susan Reef, Linda Snyder, Alana J. Freifeld, Milt Huppert, David Salkin, MacHelle D. Wilson, John N. Galgiani

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17 Scopus citations


Background: The natural history of non-central nervous system (non-CNS) disseminated coccidioidomycosis (DCM) has not been previously characterized. The historical Veterans Affairs (VA)-Armed Forces coccidioidomycosis patient group provides a unique cohort of patients not treated with standard antifungal therapy, allowing for characterization of the natural history of coccidioidomycosis. Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of 531 VA-Armed Forces coccidioidomycosis patients diagnosed between 1955-1958 and followed to 1966. Groups were identified as non-DCM (462 patients), DCM (44 patients), and CNS (25 patients). The duration of the initial infection, fate of the primary infection, all-cause mortality, and mortality secondary to coccidioidomycosis were assessed and compared between groups. Results: Mortality due to coccidioidomycosis at the last known follow-up was significantly different across the groups: 0.65% in the non-DCM group, 25% in the DCM group, and 88% in the CNS group (P < .001). The primary fate of pulmonary infection demonstrated key differences, with pulmonary nodules observed in 39.61% of the non-DCM group, 13.64% of the DCM group, and 20% of the CNS group (P < .001). There were differences in cavity formation, with 34.20% in the non-DCM group, 9.09% in the DCM group, and 8% in the CNS group (P < .001). Dissemination was the presenting manifestation or was concurrent with the initial infection in 41% and 56% of patients in the non-CNS DCM and CNS groups, respectively. Conclusions: This large, retrospective cohort study helps characterize the natural history of DCM, provides insight into the host immunologic response, and has direct clinical implications for the management and follow-up of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E3814-E3819
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Coccidioides
  • dissemination
  • outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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