Is there no medicine or treatment to prevent the valley fever?
Or can you protect yourself against?
No, there is no prevention/vaccine for Valley Fever. I contracted a severe case of Valley Fever myself from a trip to Sharktooth Hill a number of years ago. Having an "iron constitution" is not going to matter. I've dug in the southland for years and assumed I must be immune since I never got sick, but when I finally did it was extremely serious.
Public health organizations here in California estimate that as many as 40% - 50% of California residents have contracted Valley Fever and brushed it off as a severe flu or cold, but in severe cases it is VERY dangerous and persistent. It mimics pneumonia, but cannot be treated with antibiotics which is among the first signs it is a fungal disease. Later, a bright rash appears around the neck which is the distinctive indication of this disease. Treatment generally involves taking oral anti-fungal medications for 3-4 months and these meds are both dangerously hard on liver function as well as costing about $500 per month. In rare cases it can cause a fungal meningitis that is usually fatal.
The fungal spores are inhaled when the soil is disturbed or otherwise vaporized as in grinding or percussion breakdown of sandstones or other porous materials the fungus inhabits. The fungus causes especially large outbreaks in seasons that are abnormally wet, followed by very hot and dry conditions as are typical in Bakersfield (Shark Tooth Hill is practically ground zero for the stuff) and the tar seeps around McKittrick and elsewhere. I think everyone here should be aware that the huge rainfall in southern California this winter is exactly the precondition for heavy spore growth so it may make 2011 a high risk year for Valley Fever.
I actually contracted Valley Fever myself in 2005 and it was the most severe medical problem I have ever had. It took me down for 3 months, making me so weak friends had to bring me food because I couldn't get out of bed. I was eventually given anti-fungals, but it took the quack doctors several weeks to admit that they weren't dealing with a bacterial issue. The "Fever" in Valley Fever was a bizarre rise and fall of body temp on about a 14 hour cycle. It would rise to as high as 104.5 degrees and you sweat like you are in a sauna, then your temp falls and you freeze in a puddle of your own sweat until the cycle starts again. You risk dehydration if you don't push fluids constantly. It's gross and scary, especially since you have an unstoppable, disgustingly productive cough combined with unrelenting muscle weakness. This continues nonstop for close to two months when the anti-fungals finally kick it back to the point that your immune system starts to mop it up. In x-ray it shows as a fabric of fungal hyphae which is especially spooky when you realize it is consuming you as if you are blue cheese.
It's worth noting, too, that I have dug in that region for decades and never previously got sick, so I assumed I must have been exposed at some point and contracted a mild version. I was VERY wrong. You do get a lifetime immunity once you contract and, hopefully, survive the disease, but Valley Fever is not something to take lightly. It can be an extremely serious disease. I know. I had it and it was very costly. My lungs are permanently scarred by the disease which has made me more susceptible to respiratory illnesses that I NEVER got in the past.
One last note. Evidence suggests Asians and African-Americans have a higher susceptibility to Valley Fever, although I don't know if this is a sampling bias or a real epidemiological difference.
“When you're riding in a time machine way far into the future, don't stick your elbow out the window, or it'll turn into a fossil.” - Jack Handy