8 April 2013

Staying indoors today

Today, much (all?) of Arizona is getting high winds. Back in Canada when this happens we worry about white-outs in winter, downed trees, and blowing debris which of course, can be extremely dangerous causing accidents, downed power lines and creating property damage and occasional deaths. That happens in AZ too but most of the trees in the desert are not nearly as tall and as large as trees in Canada.  Mind you, if a tall Sahuaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) happens to fall on you, it will kill you because of its weight and the sharp thorns. Instead of white outs, we get 'brown outs" which are dust storms and they can be as dangerous as white-outs when you're driving.

High winds in AZ stir up dust - a LOT of dust - because most of the state lies within a desert and where we happen to live is in the middle of a desert area. The largest dust storms, Haboobs, are forces to be reckoned with.(NOTE: we are NOT getting a Haboob today but take a look at the video to see what one is like.)

September 6th, 2012 Phoenix Haboob/Dust Storm from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

Today, we (I) decided against going for a walk and remaining indoors instead.  Wimps?  Uh-uh. While the picture below (taken from our backyard) just looks like they are clouds, they're not.  There are clouds high up but all the stuff at the horizon is dust and the dust is completely obliterating our view of the distant mountains on the R side of this picture.

Why avoid a little dust?  Well, here in AZ, wind storms do a lot more than stir up dust.  They do an excellent job of blowing bacteria and contagious fungi around the air.  During and shortly after the storms, people - and dogs and other pets - are likely to breathe in the contaminated air.  What we do NOT want to inhale are the Valley Fever fungi (Coccidioidomycosis) which can cause serious health issues - fever, chest pain and coughing, among other signs and symptoms. And it is very, very expensive to treat.  Dogs comprise the majority of Valley Fever cases in animals. In 2011 there were 16,472 human cases of Valley Fever statewide, out of a population of  6,553,255. Peronslally I have know of a dog in our neighbourhood that contracted Valley Fever as well as two Vizslas owned by one of my clients in California and two people I know who live in or visited AZ have also inhaled the fungi and have the disease. So on this high winds day, we have opted to stay indoors and snooze and play games.  Better safe than sorry.


  1. Not fun. I think I prefer our west coast weather :).

  2. Sylvia, I have been sending emails to you via 'vizslas@varazs.org' but I am not sure you have received them. Is there a better email address that I should use? No worries (now) about Rachel. Her test results were just fine. Joe S

  3. Some friends of ours that lived in AZ had a young male Vizsla that was not getting along with their older male Vizsla so they sent him to us. He (Lewis) looked great to us, but just to be on the safe side, we took him to our Vet to have some lab work done to make sure he was in good health. Well, our Vet told us his lungs appeared to be the lungs 'of an old dog' and there were some issues with his blood test results. He was a mess! We took very good care of him and he ultimately lived to be 13+ years old which was amazing, but his life was pock marked with assorted health calamities. It was a very good idea to stay in with the dogs today!!! Joe S.