Coccidioidomycosis in Rheumatology Patients

Incidence and Potential Risk Factors


Address for correspondence: Janis E. Blair, M.D., Division of Infectious Diseases, Mayo Clinic, 13400 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale, AZ 85259.


Abstract: Coccidioidomycosis is a potentially serious fungal infection contracted in endemic areas of the desert southwestern United States. Limited information exists about its incidence and clinical course in patients with rheumatic diseases, who may be at higher risk of symptomatic or disseminated coccidioidomycosis because of either the rheumatic disease itself or its treatment. We analyzed the incidence and risk factors for symptomatic and complicated coccidioidomycosis in our academic rheumatology practice in central Arizona. Between January 1, 2000, and June 30, 2006, coccidioidomycosis was diagnosed in 1.9% of the overall practice and in 3.1–3.6% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The annual incidence was 1% in patients recently diagnosed with RA and 2% among patients with recently initiated infliximab treatment. Coccidioidomycosis was identified only in patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases and extrathoracic dissemination occurred only to joints in two patients. Corticosteroids, immunosuppressive medications, and tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFIs) appeared to be risk factors for symptomatic, but not disseminated coccidioidomycosis.