Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood grew up in Kern County. He hikes here, he rides horses here and he golfs here. He remembers elementary school field trips to Shark’s Tooth Hill to dig for relics here. He has done just about everything that could put him at risk for breathing in the coccidioidal fungal spore that causes valley fever, the insidious respiratory disease endemic to the area.
A relative got sick and died from the disease years ago after he was misdiagnosed. Then, a few months ago, Youngblood’s significant other got sick. Youngblood decided to get tested.