Valley Fever takes center stage as fall arrives

Cassandra McGowan, Reporter

Congressman Kevin McCarthy hosted a symposium about Valley Fever on Sept. 23-24 at the Kern County Health Department.
According to the Center for Disease Control, reported cases of Valley Fever have risen by 4,000 since the year 2000 with 75% of those cases in California’s Central Valley.
Bernadee Warnock, forestry major, said she contracted Valley Fever as a child and had to miss six months of school and was bed-ridden for four months. “I now have a very low immune system,” she said.
The fungus Coccidioidomycosis that resides within the soils, mostly in California, Arizona, and Mexico, can cause Valley Fever once the spores are released into the air and breathed in. Common causes of spore release are extremely windy, dusty conditions and construction.
Between 2000 and 2011 there were 25,217 people in California hospitals because of illness related to the contraction of Valley Fever. These hospital visits cost upward of $2 billion.
During the symposium, it was announced that the CDC would be conducting a clinical trial where half of the patients will get an antibiotic and placebo, while the other half will get an antibiotic and anti-fungal medication.
The study will start recruiting the 1,000 participants by next year, and results will more than likely take several years.