health

Just One Breath
6:33 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Valley fever takes an animal toll, and pets rely on the same treatments as people

Debra Stone holds her dog Nemo, who appears to be doing very well after recently being diagnosed with valley fever.
Henry A. Barrios The Bakersfield Californian

The first valley fever victim that Dr. Demosthenes Pappagianis remembers was Mbongo — a gorilla at the San Diego Zoo

“I was a kid in San Diego at the time and saw the article in the newspaper,” recalled the veteran researcher on the animal’s 1942 death from the disease, also known as coccidiomycosis. “I didn’t know what cocci were at that time, but I knew that a gorilla at the zoo had died.”

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Just One Breath
6:00 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Valley Fever Research For Pets May Yield Benefits For Humans

Bobbi Duke holds Crash, her three-legged cat that is recovering from valley fever. Another family pet, Lucas, a dog, has also been diagnosed with valley fever and she has concern that Sheeba, another family dog, may also have valley fever.
Henry A. Barrios The Bakersfield Californian

Dogs, not people, may hold the key to improved treatments, even a possible cure, for valley fever.

One way researchers have lured private money is by proposing research projects involving pets, the theory being that companies and donors would see more of a market potential in dogs and cats suffering and dying from the disease.

Dogs and humans get hit with valley fever in a very similar way. They inhale spores from a fungus common in the soil in the Southwest. The spores take root in the lungs and can spread to other organs and parts of the body.

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Health
3:57 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Study Links Flame Retardants to Developmental Delays in Children

According to study authors, flame retardant chemicals can leach out from upholstered furniture, particularly if the foam is exposed through rips.
Credit Courtesy UC Berkeley Media Relations

A new UC Berkeley study adds to research that suggests flame retardants common in California homes are linked to neurodevelopmental delays in kids.

The study followed nearly 300 women from pregnancy to when their children were 7 years old. Researchers tested mother's levels and then the children's levels for the flame retardant compound polybrominated diphenyl ethers, known as PBDE. They wanted to assess in utero effect as well as childhood exposure, says lead researcher and UC Berkeley epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi.

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Health Care Reform
11:21 am
Thu November 15, 2012

California Intends to Run New Health Marketplace On Its Own

The logo for California Covered, the state's new health benefit exchange.

California plans to tell the federal government this week that it will operate a key component of the federal health law on its own. 

States have until the end of this week to tell the federal government if they will operate their own health insurance exchanges. States also have the option to receive help, or have the federal government manage their marketplaces.

The California Health Benefit Exchange board has signaled its intent to go it alone by approving a detailed operations plan and grant proposal.  

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Valley Edition
12:49 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Valley Edition: Valley Fever; Fracking; Latino Music Exhibit

This week on Valley Edition, we continue our series of special reports on the fungal disease known as valley fever. Journalist Rebecca Plevin from the Reporting on Health Collaborative brings us the story of a young girl from Delano who contracted the disease last year, changing her life forever. Host Juanita Stevenson also talks with Yesenia Amaro, a health reporter for the Merced Sun-Star and member of the collaborative,  about the effort to bring more attention to this disease, and Dr. Dee Lacy, an infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente Fresno. 

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Just One Breath
11:56 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Valley Fever Changes Young Girl's Life

7-year-old Emily Gorospe loves to dance, but valley fever robbed her of her strength last year
Daniel Casarez/Vida en el Valle

Emily Gorospe cannot sit still. The spunky 7-year-old with long, brown braids loves to make up dances in her bedroom. When she’s not dancing, she’s jumping rope, or hula hooping.

But last spring, when she was just six, Emily became very tired and sick. She developed a fever that wouldn’t go away and red blotches appeared across her body.

“She’s got so much energy usually. Just walking from one part of the house, from her room to the living room, or to the kitchen, she was drained.”

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Just One Breath
11:56 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Misdiagnosis of Valley Fever Prolongs the Suffering

Jillian Lugo fixes her daughter, Jayden's, hair for a picture. The 10-year-old girl has spent most of her life with valley fever and the complications it has caused. She contracted the fungal disease that spread to her brain w
Henry A. Barrios The Bakersfield Californian

Jayden Lugo has had 56 surgeries in her short life.

The 10-year-old from Wasco in California’s Central Valley has brain damage, uses a walker to get around, undergoes therapy once a week and takes three pills every night before she goes to bed.

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Health Care Reform
3:46 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

‘Last Distraction’ Removed as California Moves Ahead on Health Reform

First, there was uncertainty over a U.S. Supreme Court challenge. Then came the race for the presidency.

Now, California lawmakers say the uncertainty is over and nothing can stop them from bringing health coverage to millions of uninsured Californians under President Obama’s signature health care law.

“This removes the last distraction and question from anyone’s mind that we won’t be launching a dramatic expansion in coverage in California,” said Peter Lee, executive director of California’s health insurance exchange, a key piece of the expansion.

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Health
4:20 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Health Benefit Exchanges Picks 'California Covered' As New Name

The board of the California Health Benefit Exchange has approved a new name and logo for the health insurance marketplace that will expand coverage under the federal health law.

Planners decided on “Covered California” after months of testing and consideration.

“I have a whole raft of staff that are saying, ‘Finally, I can get a business card," said Peter Lee, Executive Director of the Exchange, which is now known as ‘Covered California.’

He said planners used focus groups to come up with a name that resonated with a diversity of Californians.

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Health
9:09 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Social Impact Bond May Fund Asthma Prevention in Fresno

Clinica Sierra Vista's Arvin clinic in Kern County - file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When Benjamin Franklin wrote that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" he had no idea he would be describing one of 2012's hottest trends in health care and investments, something known as social impact bonds.  The details are complex, but the concept is based around a simple idea.

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Government & Politics
3:04 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

Prison System Set for First Step to End Federal Oversight

Credit Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

California officials will take charge tomorrow of opening the nation’s largest prison medical facility. They have to meet a deadline of July of next year. As KPCC’s Julie Small reports, how well they accomplish the task will determine how soon a federal judge will end his oversight of prison medical care.

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Valley Edition
12:11 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

On Valley Edition: Jerry Brown; Proposition Talk; Fresno Environmental Reporting Network

On this Valley Edition, we hear Governor Jerry Brown talk about his ballot measure Proposition 30 in an interview with Ben Adler. We also examine Propositions 36, 37 and 38 with a series of special reports, and talk with retired Justice James Ardaiz and get his thoughts on efforts to make changes to California's "Three Strikes" law and to abolish the death penalty. 

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Just One Breath
5:38 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

More People Dying from Valley Fever, Especially Those With Chronic Disease

Dr. Navin Amin examines Archie Scott, a patient with valley fever, at his office in Bakersfield. Dr. Amin is the chair of the family practice department at Kern Medical Center and a valley fever expert.
Henry A. Barrios / The Bakersfield Californian

More people are dying from valley fever than previously thought, and illnesses including diabetes, lung disease, arthritis and certain cancers may increase a person’s chances of dying from the disease, according to a new study.

This past year, researchers have puzzled over the rise of valley fever cases. Diagnosed cases have grown from 1,200 in 1995 to more than 20,000 in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Now researchers have new evidence to consider: a study to be published in the November issue of the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

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Just One Breath
5:00 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Public Health Champion Felled by Diabetes and Valley Fever

Jeff Jue served as the director for the Mental Health Department in Merced, Sonoma, and San Francisco counties. He was considered a leader in social services by those familiar with his work before dying of valley fever at the age of 62 in 2005.

The last time Linda Jue saw her husband alive, he was in the intensive care unit in a lot of pain.

Right before doctors gave him painkillers, Jeff Jue gave her two thumbs up and smiled.

The former Merced County mental health director was fighting for his life at the time. Doctors at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto were treating him for valley fever.

Jue was starting to enjoy his retirement when it was suddenly cut short by the fungal disease.

“He had only been retired for three years,” said Linda Jue, who lives in Modesto.

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Valley Edition
9:49 am
Wed October 17, 2012

On Valley Edition: Arvin 'Bucket Brigade'; Kern County Cancer Fund; Campaign Spending

The community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation, but residents are now taking matters into their own hands with a "bucket brigade."
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Arvin "Bucket Brigade"
The small Kern County community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation, thanks to geography and numerous pollution sources. But now some citizens are taking matters into their own hands, with a "bucket brigade" that aims to clean up the air by monitoring pollution themselves. On Sunday they gathered outside a local composting plant to protest what they call a major community polluter.  But their “do it yourself” efforts at monitoring pollution are not without controversy. Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore has this report:

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Just One Breath
6:24 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Town hall event focuses on valley fever concerns

State Senator Michael Rubio led a town hall meeting on Friday in Bakersfield to address concerns about valley fever
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

San Joaquin Valley residents, doctors and experts demanding improvements in the way valley fever is studied, diagnosed and treated shared their concerns during a town hall meeting hosted by state Senator Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, in Bakersfield on Friday.

Experts stressed the need for earlier diagnosis of the disease. That requires better education about the disease for providers and the public, they said.

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Just One Breath
3:17 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Valley fever vaccine effort lacks federal funding

The federal government is the single biggest source for the primary research that leads to new vaccines. 

But, like the pharmaceutical industry, it currently is not supporting a valley fever vaccine. Other diseases that affect far fewer people receive much more federal support. 

Tularemia only affects about 200 people in the country annually, less than 1 percent of the estimated 150,000 people hit by valley fever. Like valley fever, the disease is primarily concentrated in only a portion of the country, mostly in the south-central and western part of the country.

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Just One Breath
2:58 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Valley fever vaccine stalls after early promise

Dr. Demosthenes Pappagianis, the lab where he and members of his research staff are developing a Valley Fever vaccine, inside Tupper Hall at University of California, Davis.
Photo by Brian Baer/Special To The Sacramento Bee

Just eight years ago, a vaccine to stop valley fever seemed within reach.

Ambitious scientists at five universities had brought in millions of dollars since 1997 from private donations and government funding to develop a way to beat the fungus before it ever had a chance to lodge in a person’s lungs and wreak havoc on his or her organs.

In 2004, they announced they had selected a pathway to pursue a vaccine.

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Just One Breath
2:00 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Scientists took different routes to find valley fever vaccine

Dr. Demosthenes Pappagianis, the lab where he and members of his research staff are developing a Valley Fever vaccine, inside Tupper Hall at University of California, Davis.
Photo by Brian Baer/Special To The Sacramento Bee

Five scientists were chosen by a committee affiliated with California State University, Bakersfield, in 1997 to pursue vaccine research.

Dr. John Galgiani, 66, professor at the University of Arizona and director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence

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Food
5:58 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

California School Staff Meet To Strengthen Fresh, California Foods in Schools

California school lunch staff want to include more state-grown food into cafeteria meals. They met in Oakland yesterday to share ideas on how to make that happen.

The Center for Ecoliteracy helped bring together school lunch directors and chefs from Los Angeles to Sacramento. The advocacy group says that fresh, Californian food is good for kids’ health, and the state economy.

“Real kids need real food to learn and grow.”

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