Biogeographic range expansion into South America by Coccidioides immitis mirrors New World patterns of human migration.
Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) is a disease caused by inhalation of Coccidioides spp. This neglected disease has substantial public health impact despite its geographic restriction to desert areas of the southwestern U.S., Mexico, Central and South America. The incidence of this infection in California and Arizona has been increasing over the past fifteen years. Several large cities are within the endemic region in the U.S. Coccidioidomycosis accounts for 25,000 hospital admissions per year in California. While most cases of coccidioidomycosis resolve spontaneously, up to 40% are severe enough to require anti-fungal treatment, and a significant number disseminate beyond the lungs. Disseminated infection involving the meninges is fatal without appropriate treatment. Infection with Coccidioides spp. is protective against a second infection, so vaccination seems biologically plausible. This review of efforts to develop a vaccine against coccidioidomycosis focuses on vaccine approaches and the difficulties in identifying protein antigen/adjuvant combinations that protect in experimental mouse models. Although the quest for a vaccine is still in the early stage, scientific efforts for vaccine development may pave the way for future success.