More than 2,100 California inmates will have to be moved from two Central Valley prisons because they may be susceptible of contracting valley fever.
Results from skin tests conducted earlier this month showed an additional 3,050 inmates have already been exposed to the potentially deadly illness.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will move the inmates from Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons but officials are still determining where the inmates will be transferred to.
“Those people must be moved out of those two prisons as quickly as possible,” says Joyce Hayhoe, with California Correctional Health Care Services.
Prison officials tested more than 36,000 inmates through the state for previous exposure to Valley Fever. The goal is to reduce the number of infections and determine who can be safely housed at both prisons.
“If you had a test and it showed you’ve already been exposed to Valley Fever and you are already at Avenal State Prison or Pleasant Valley State Prison that means it’s safe to keep you there because once you’re exposed you can’t be exposed twice,” Hayhoe says.
Valley fever is caused by a fungus that thrives throughout the Central Valley and other parts of the Southwest, sending out spores. Those infected may experience minor, flu like symptoms and then become immune. In severe cases it can lead to long term disability or death. In recent years a number of prisoners have sued the state after contracting the disease.
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is working closely with the federal receiver’s office to coordinate the transfer of inmates out of the two Central Valley prisons.