Health

News on health, wellness and health care

California health leaders say moving nearly 900,000 children in the Healthy Families program over to Medi-Cal will help the state get ready for the federal health overhaul.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Diana Dooley spoke in advance of a legislative oversight hearing on the transition.  

“There are a number of advantages for the children in the Medi-Cal program, it does give the security of knowing where their coverage will be in advance of 2014.” 

Dooley says kids in the two programs have some of the same providers.

Plague Found in Animals in California's Mountain Regions

Oct 12, 2012

California health officials are alerting people to protect themselves from plague after animals in Northern and Southern California tested positive for bacteria that cause the disease.

El Dorado County officials say there may be elevated plague risk in the South Lake Tahoe area after a chipmunk was found positive at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.

Dr. Vicki Kramer of the California Department of Public Health says the finding isn’t cause for alarm, but it’s a reminder to take precautions.

Town hall event focuses on valley fever concerns

Oct 7, 2012
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.

Valley fever vaccine effort lacks federal funding

Oct 7, 2012

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.

Valley fever vaccine stalls after early promise

Oct 7, 2012
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.

Scientists took different routes to find valley fever vaccine

Oct 7, 2012
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

As states work to comply with the federal health care law, many are designing their insurance exchanges, where people will be able to shop for coverage.

But just the word "exchange" sounds to many like off-putting government-speak, and some states are eager to come up with a more appealing name for these new marketplaces.

Peter Lee directs California's Health Benefit Exchange. It's up for a new name, and Lee says they want it to sound fresh, dynamic and innovative.

Valley fever costs mount for patients and taxpayers

Sep 22, 2012
Henry A. Barrios/The Bakersfield Californian

Berenice Parra was sick for eight months before doctors realized she had a severe form of the fungal disease valley fever.

“I was literally dying without a cure,” said Parra, a 25-year-old mother of three from Arvin, in Kern County.

Desperate for relief and concerned that doctors in the Bakersfield area weren’t taking her illness seriously, she drove 245 miles to Tijuana, three times, to see a doctor recommended by relatives.

Valley fever forces police captain to give up his badge

Sep 22, 2012
The Bakersfield Californian

When Archie Scott came down with valley fever, he was 52, extremely fit and a captain in the Bakersfield Police Department. 

One day in 2007, he started feeling feverish and lethargic with joint aches. He went to his physician, but the diagnosis was inconclusive. Weeks later, when he still had a fever, he went to a neurologist for additional testing. 

“We didn’t know what we were dealing with,” Scott said. 

Taxpayers spend millions on valley fever in prisons

Sep 22, 2012

Californians are locked into contributing to the cost of treating state inmates sickened by valley fever. 

Since 2006, the state prison system has tried but failed to reduce the disease’s impact and price tag.

California Correctional Health Care Services foots an annual bill of about $23 million for sending inmates with valley fever to hospitals outside the prison, guarding these patients, and for their antifungal treatments. That’s about what it costs to build a new school in Fresno County.

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