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Cases of Valley Fever expected to continue to rise

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Corey Schubert Corey Schubert
A dust storm rolls through the desert. A dust storm rolls through the desert.
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

As of December 2012, there were more than 12,000 cases of Valley Fever throughout Arizona, and doctors say that number will only rise.

Dr. Larry Spratling, the chief medical officer at Banner Baywood, said the weather is to blame.

"Rates have been increasing, you might say because environmental conditions are just right," he explained.

In the past few years, Arizona has seen an increase in large dust storms, some of which have even enveloped the Valley.

"We're essentially moving into its endemic area. The fungus lives here, it was here before we got here, and I think the conditions are just right for more and more susceptible hosts to experience and exposure," explained Spratling.

Spratling said it is best to stay inside during a dust storm or haboob. However, there are things you should do if you are caught outside during a storm.

"If you do get caught out, I suggest taking a handkerchief, a shirt, anything you can and cover your mouth and your nose," said Spratling.

Corey Schubert was taking out the trash a little more than a year ago during a dust storm.

"I'll be out there two minutes," he recalled.

But a few months later, he started feeling incredibly sick. In fact, he said he thought he was having a heart attack. Rather, he was diagnosed with Valley Fever.

"I really thought I was going to die," said Schubert.

Now he tells his friends what Spratling tells his patients - stay inside during dust storms.

"If there is a dust storm and you're out in it, every minute you're out there you're playing Russian roulette with your lungs," said Schubert.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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