It's in the dirt!
Well, will you look at that! Such nice circular layers of fugus growing in a blood agar. It's not often we get something like this in the lab, but it's not exactly rare either. In fact, according to the CDC, most of the cases are from Arizona and California.
You are looking at Coccidioides immitis, one of the fungus that causes Valley Fever. Valley Fever is a respiratory illness that occurs when you breathe in the organism. It's not too difficult to get them since they are in the environment. Like some of the more infectious diseases, this one is not contagious. Thank goodness!
For context, the patient is in their 60s and living in St. George area in Utah. I don't have the fungal stains or the potato flake agar for this specimen. I don't usually perform those on my shift. I'm sure you could search online for some pictures of Coccidioides species.
Here's the distribution map from the CDC:
From the map, they do exist in Utah, but it's not cause for you to be fearing for your life. The truth is, most people might not know they have it and the symptoms go away in a matter of time. Like many fungal diseases, the most vulnerable are those with weakened immune systems. And the CDC does highlight this.
I guess the fungus is racist as well.
On a serious note, it's not understood why certain ethnicities are more affected. Even on the document I found on the California state government website doesn't know.
If you ever need a good reason to wear masks outside during a dusty day in this part of US, this could be it.
Posted with STEMGeeks