CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) – Valley Fever is rarely heard about in New Mexico, but Carlsbad resident Paul Moore, 60, contracted it and in late May it killed him.
“Having your dad one day and turning around and having him gone the next. That’s probably the hardest part about it,” said Moore’s daughter Katelyn.
Valley Fever is a fungal infection that gets into a person’s lungs.
According to health officials, the fungus thrives in desert soils.
They say someone can get the disease by simply inhaling infected dirt or dust.
Since 2006, there have been about 300 cases of Valley Fever in New Mexico.
Of those cases, Moore is the only recorded fatality.
His family says it took doctors nearly three weeks to correctly diagnose him.
By the time they did, it was too late.
“By that time the pneumonia had progressed to a stage that it was very hard for him to overcome,” said Moore’s son Joshua.
The scary part is Moore’s family thinks he got the infection by working in his own yard.
“God only knows how many people have been misdiagnosed and have actually passed away with the Valley Fever and had absolutely no idea that they had it,” said Katelyn.
Now, the family is making it their mission to let other New Mexicans know the infection is a threat.
“We want people to realize it could happen to anybody at anytime,” said Moore’s wife Brenda.
While sharing Moore’s tragic story isn’t easy for his family, they say it’s what he would have wanted.
“If we can prevent one person from going through a tragedy like this then that’s really what we are trying to do,” she said.
According to health officials, more than 95 percent of Valley Fever cases occur in Arizona or California.