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Valley Fever Corridor: Tucson Walk for Cure Oct. 10 – UPDATE AZ: 172 new cases in less than week

Tucson dog Gabby lost her fight with Valley Fever Sept. 22/submitted photo

You could have Valley Fever and not even know it.

Valley Fever annually infects thousands of Arizonans as well as 1 in 25 area dogs, often with absolutely no symptoms, University of Arizona’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence says.

Or Valley Fever can kill.

Gabby, an award-winning miniature schnauzer, lost her battle with Valley Fever Sept. 22, after fighting the disease for nearly half her life.

The 5-year-old Tucson show dog and dedicated pet was struck with Valley Fever two years ago. Even thousands of dollars worth of veterinary care could not stave off the disease that eventually led to Gabby’s kidney failure.

Valley Fever has no cure.

UA’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence aims to fix that, with funds raised for research with the Walk to Cure Valley Fever Oct. 10 at UA Mall. Sign-in starts at 8 a.m. and events run from 8:30 to 11 a.m. More details below or at

Gabby, aka Marki-Galena's Talk of the Town/submitted photo

The Dirt on Valley Fever

Beware when cleaning out that pack rat’s nest, racing through the desert on your ATV, digging for bones or otherwise playing around in Arizona soil, as Valley Fever comes from a fungus known as cocci, or coccidioidomycosis, that grows in dirt. The infection gets into the lungs when the fungus spores become airborne and we – or our pets – breathe it in.

The fungus cocci thrives in southern Arizona, with 80 percent of the 4 million people living in high-risk Valley Fever areas right here in Tucson and Phoenix.

Two-thirds of all Valley Fever cases are in Arizona, with Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties hit so hard they are known as the “Valley Fever Corridor.”

Parts of New Mexico, Texas, Nevada and Utah are also a prime cocci zone, as is California, from whence came its discovery and name of “San Joaquin Valley Fever.”

Arizona’s prime time to contact the disease is June and July, and then again in October and November.

Anyone who lives in or travels through Arizona or other areas with infected soil is at risk, especially pregnant women who have a lowered immune system during parts of their pregnancy.

Dogs are especially at risk for the disease, but it also preys on horses, sheep, cattle, coyotes, rodents, bats, snakes and other native species and pets.

Even if the disease is not fatal, it can make you or your pet quite sick.

Gabby was just one of Marianne’s 11 dogs that became infected with the disease in the past 18 years. Eight of them survived, but only after months and months of medication. Medications, Marianne said, that “are very hard on a dog’s liver, some with lingering side effects.”


About 60 percent of Valley Fever cases don’t show any symptoms or only slight symptoms that resemble the flu. Others suffer fatigue, cough, profuse night sweats, fever, appetite loss, chest pain and achy muscles and joints. Skin rashes that look like hives or measles also sometimes crop up.

Doctors use a blood test to diagnose the disease, which can turn chronic and linger for years. It is not contagious.

Walk to Cure Valley Fever and save pets like Gabby/submitted photo


What: Tucson Walk to Cure Valley Fever
When: Oct. 10, 8 to 11 a.m.
Where: University of Arizona Mall
How much: Entry fee for walk $25, other entry fees for events vary.
Learn more or register online at or call 626-6517

Event includes agility fun course for dogs, children’s craft area, Pup-cake contest and more. More details at

Dogs welcome, of course (on leash and vaccinated, also of course)


172 new cases of Valley Fever in less than week

Arizona has seen an increase of 172 new confirmed and probable cases of Valley Fever from Sept. 16 to Sept. 23, the most recent data available from the state health department.

New cases in Pima County totaled 23, bringing the county’s total for the period between Jan. 3 to Sept. 23 to 906.

According to the recent update from the Office of Infectious Disease Services, Arizona Department of Health Services there have been 7,470 confirmed and probable cases of Valley Fever between the period of Jan. 3 to Sept. 23.

See complete report at:


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Pregnant robots give birth at UMC

Two robots of pregnant women, who give birth to robot infants, recently checked in to University Medical Center.

While it would make even bigger headlines if the two robots were part of an alien invasion, they are instead teaching tools purchased with a $40,000 grant.

UA medical student Garrett Pacheco delivers robot Noelle's robot Baby Hal/submitted photo
UA medical student Garrett Pacheco delivers robot Noelle's robot Baby Hal/submitted photo

The mom robots are named “Noelle” and they give birth to “Baby Hal.” Unfortunately, it seems the two blond robots are identical, which will hopefully not lead to any baby mix-ups, but they can be programmed to do different things.

Here’s more from the UMC news release:

Noelle can be programmed to simulate a long or short labor. A motor pushes a lifelike plastic baby out of the birth canal and even expels an ersatz placenta. She can simulate a variety of childbirth complications, from a breech delivery to hemorrhage to the baby being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck.

Noelle’s pulse and respiration rises and falls, she urinates and bleeds, and students can practice inserting an IV, intubating her airway, resuscitating her though CPR or delivering her baby with forceps or a vacuum.

Noelle even talks. “It’s really hurting now!” and “The baby is coming!” are among dozens of her pre-programmed vocalizations. Rynnote: It doesn’t say if she screams, swears or bites through metal objects in pain.

The lifelike newborn robot can be programmed to change colors from a healthy pink to the dusky blue of oxygen deficiency, and to simulate seizures, allowing doctors and nurses to practice their resuscitation skills.

The automaton recently made her debut to a group of third-year students from the UA College of Medicine in UMC’s Labor and Delivery Unit

Wow. Kind of creepy but very snappy.

Keeping this robot concept in mind, we should get extra Baby Hals to pass out to pregnant mothers so they learn to not shake, slap or forget about infants in their cribs for 18-hour stretches.

We should also add some robot dogs, cats, hamsters and birds so folks can learn how to properly take care of pets.

And where’s that Rosie Robot who is supposed to come clean my house?


What do you think?

Is this an awesome concept or a waste of money?

Would a robot help you learn things you need to know?

Will robots really take over the world, as we’ve all been promised?

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Unidentified moth named after Tucson woman

Tucsonan Lee Walsh is a lucky woman.

Being married to a University of Arizona biologist must be exciting enough, especially if he keeps jars of fossilized specimens all over the house.

But she got extra excitement when her biologist husband Bruce Walsh, who doubles as a UA professor, discovered an unidentified moth while he was hanging out in the Chiracahua Mountains. The moth is pink, which is Lee’s favorite color.

Thus he named the moth after his beloved wife. Now officially known as “Lithophane leeae,” the moth can stop flitting around aimlessly confused while lacking an identity.

Unidentified Moth Named by UA Biologist,
While he only found a single Lee moth so far …Walsh said he is confident there are bound to be more. “If this thing is flying at the top of the Chiracahuas, it’s probably pretty common,” he said.
Finding it is another matter because moths like Lithophane tend to over-winter at higher elevations, hibernating when there is snow on the ground and flying off at the first signs of spring. Walsh said bats are the primary predators of moths, and so if the insects can make it through the winter, when bats hibernate, they will likely do well as the weather gets warmer.
As to why L. leeae hasn’t been found before, Walsh theorized that his specimen simply emerged late from hibernation when it was caught. Another theory is that it could be a stray from another mountain range in the region. He said there are a number of species that fly early in the summer and are rare in collections and not often seen in most years.

Having a moth named after you is certainly a thrill, much nicer than sharing your moniker with an infectious bacteria or disease. Poor Lou Gehrig.

Others are honored by sharing their names with roadways, parks and special sandwiches at the local deli.

My biggest claim to name fame is having a goat named after me, which is none too shabby if I say so myself.

A goat named Ryn/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
A goat named Ryn/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

What would you name a moth if you discovered one?

Have you ever had anything named after you?