health

Kerry Klein/KVPR

We continue our reporting this week on the fungal disease known as valley fever with a story about a potential route to prevention. One of the first lines of defense against any disease is determining who’s at risk. It’s possible to develop immunity to valley fever, and a new skin test could be used to screen for that immunity—but that’s only if the test overcomes some major hurdles.

Courtesy KABC Los Angeles / Center For Health Journalism Collaborative

Valley fever has long been a major health concern for people who live in the San Joaquin Valley. A fungus that grows in the soil can become airborne. If inhaled it can cause serious health issues, even death in some cases, though most people who contract the disease have a mild case, and they don’t even know they’ve had it. Now cases of the disease are up significantly in Kern County and some say it is connected to California's weather patterns.

Forecasting An Epidemic: Does Weather Hold The Key To Predicting Valley Fever Outbreaks?

Nov 13, 2016
Craig Kohlruss / The Fresno Bee

When a punishing drought besieged California in the late 1980s, relief came with 30 days of rain in 1991 — dubbed the March Miracle because of how it revived the state’s agricultural economy.

Those significant swings in the weather may have had another consequence, though. The next year, Kern County health officials counted more cases of valley fever than ever before, with roughly 3,342 diagnoses and 25 deaths. By contrast, a decade earlier in 1982, fewer than 200 people were diagnosed with the disease and seven died.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

The streets of Fresno can be dangerous—not just to drivers and bicyclists, but also to pedestrians. Following a trio of fatal accidents last week, more pedestrians have died this year than in all of 2015, and they’ve made up more than half of all traffic-related deaths. Now, a new city plan aim to make the city safer for walking.

It’s 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. And in this part of southeast Fresno, that means one thing: school’s out.

Facebook page of Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Bakersfield’s Kern Medical has selected to work with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control on a new clinical trial for valley fever. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the announcement Thursday at the hospital. The study aims to learn more about both diagnosing and treating the disease.

Valley Fever is caused by a fungus that grows in the soil throughout the southwest, including the Southern San Joaquin Valley. If inhaled it can cause serious health problems, those most people never know they have been infected.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Sometimes in public policy, especially in health care, most everyone agrees there is an obvious problem. But more often than not, getting everyone to agree on a solution is much harder. That’s what is happening right now when it comes to access to mental health care in the Central Valley and two mental health facilities are showing that gap in a stark way.

First, let’s get the ‘thing everyone agrees on’ out of the way.

It’s probably not a surprise that the Central Valley has a severe shortage of mental health facilities and providers.

Kern County Public Health Services Department Facebook

A new report from the Kern County Public Health Services Department is looking at the issue of childhood deaths in the county. According to the report, 51 children under the age of 17 died in the county last year.

Around 40 percent of the deaths were accidental, including drowning and car crashes. Another 40 percent were considered undetermined, meaning there was insufficient or conflicting evidence for the coroner to issue a cause of death.  

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

While the City of Fresno tries to figure out what to do about discolored water at some homes in Northeast Fresno, some residents there are already taking drastic steps, including repiping their homes.

On a normal day, the first thing you notice when you enter the home of Faith and Buzz Nitschke is the dozens of antique clocks quietly ticking away.

But that is not the case on this day.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we look how local residents growing up in neighborhoods filled with violence are dealing with "toxic stress" - a condition often compared to PTSD. We also learn how large wide-body air tankers are changing the fight against wildfires, and hear from Dr. Dana Suskind, who talks about the 30 million word gap and what it means for early childhood development. Later in the show we get a preview of the new season of the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture Series, which features Dr. Michio Kaku, Leon Panetta and Dave Barry.

In the first part of a series on the health impacts of violence in the community, Valley Public Radio introduced you to the family of a mentally ill man fatally shot by police. His case is an extreme example but the mental and physical health impacts of violence can be seen in more subtle ways too. Now some people are now comparing violence in the valley with a well-known condition often connected to war.

Joey Williams has spent nearly his entire life living in east Bakersfield.

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