Dust storms are a common occurrence in the arid desert environments of the American Southwest. But windborne dust can be a serious health risk, lofting spores of a sometimes-lethal fungus known as Coccidioides.

The resulting ailment, known as coccidioidomycosis or Valley fever, has been perplexing researchers since it was first described in 1892. It is currently on an alarming ascent in the United States.

Researchers at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute have been investigating Valley fever and have authored a new study describing a promising strategy known as immunosignaturing, which can provide clinicians with an accurate identification of Valley fever, a potentially serious affliction that is often misdiagnosed.