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Valley fever sidelines Mets' Ike Davis: What is it?

ike davis, mets, valley fever
Ike Davis #29 of the New York Mets during the Mets' Home Opener at Citi Field on April 8, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens in New York City. Valley fever will sideline the Mets first basemen for a few days. Getty Images

(CBS News) Valley fever has reportedly sidelined Mets first basemen Ike Davis for a few days. According to CBS New York, the 24-year-old is taking a time off to prevent extreme fatigue that's sometimes caused by the disease.

Just what exactly is Valley fever? It's a fungal infection that's caused by breathing in spores found in dirt and soil. The infection starts in the lungs and causes cold- or flu-like symptoms. The infection, also known as coccidioidomycosis, is most common among people living in desert regions of the southwestern U.S., and in Central and South America.

Valley fever may not even cause any symptoms for some sufferers, but others may experience ankle and feet swelling, chest pain, cough, fever, and muscle aches within 21 days of being exposed to the fungal spores. The infection rarely spreads from the lungs, but if it goes through the bloodstream, it could cause more serious symptoms like neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, severe lung problems, painful joint swelling, and mental health changes.

"Ike is not contagious, is not taking any medication for his condition and does not currently exhibit any of the outward symptoms associated with valley fever," the Mets said. "However, Ike has been instructed to avoid extreme fatigue. No additional tests or examinations are pending."

The Valley Fever Center at the University of Arizona says two-thirds of all U.S. infections occur in Arizona, mostly in urban areas around Phoenix and Tucson. Davis' offseason home is in Arizona.

How is Valley fever treated? According to the Mayo Clinic, the best therapy for otherwise healthy adults is bed rest and fluids. If symptoms don't improve, antifungal medications may be prescribed. Mayo says people who live in areas prone to Valley fever should consider wearing a mask during the summer months, stay inside during dust storms, and keep their doors and windows closed.

"I feel great, and I don't have any symptoms of it," Davis said. "I'm not coughing or throwing up blood. It's not even hard to breathe. The doctor said I can play, but I can't get fatigued. Forty percent of people who live in Arizona get it during their life. I could've had this for a year and not known it," Davis said.

WebMD has more on Valley fever.