News on health, wellness and health care

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Juana Paredes is a farmworker who lives in Fresno. A couple days ago, she took her daughter and niece with her to the Mosqueda Community Center and joined others in a rally to stop Fresno County from dismantling a program that offers health care to undocumented residents.

Sitting in the front row, Paredes says she showed up because she has a clear message to Fresno County— continue health care services for the undocumented.

Fresno County Department of Public Health

Fresno County is warning residents that mosquito-borne illnesses are on the rise.

At a press conference earlier this week, Joe Prado of the Department of Public Health reported that so far this year, Fresno County has already seen three times as many cases of West Nile Virus as in all of 2013.

Prado: “We are now up to 23 cases to date. If this trend continues we will exceed our highest year, which was back in 2005, where we had 68 cases.”

Fresno Among Worst California Counties For Whooping Cough Rates

Jul 24, 2014
Fresno County

Some California counties are showing substantially higher rates of whooping cough than the state average. And as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento was told, the epidemic this year could be one of the worst in fifty years.

Marin, Humboldt, Sonoma and Fresno counties have some of the highest rates of pertussis. Whooping cough surges every three to five years, but Dr. Dean Blumberg of the UC Davis Health System says this year is terrible.

California’s poor continue to face month long waits in getting state health coverage. FM 89’s Diana Aguilera reports how a young couple in Fresno County is dealing with the backlog.

Paola Martinez and her husband Irving Toscano thought they had done everything right to get health care coverage.

They made sure they met the Medi-Cal eligibility requirements, they filled out the paperwork and signed up through the Covered California website at the end of March.

But ever since then, they’ve been waiting.

Contentious Health Bills Await California Lawmakers Upon Return

Jul 7, 2014
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

California lawmakers have left Sacramento for the month of July. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento tells us, when they return, they’ll consider health care measures supported by consumer advocates and opposed by insurance companies.

Over the years health officials have raised concerns over exposure to pesticides. But now a new report from UC Davis suggests it could be an even bigger concern for pregnant women.

A new study reveals that pregnant women who live near areas where pesticides are used are more likely to have a child with autism.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

New research this week questions the connection between air pollution and asthma.

In 2011, a study by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District established a link between asthma-related ER visits and levels of PM2.5, or fine particulate matter in valley air.  But after a follow-up to that study, the Air District now reports that for a number of years, asthma-related ER visits increased even as PM2.5 levels dropped.

David Lighthall, health science advisor to the Air District, says the findings should not be interpreted as black and white.

For the first time in four years, whooping cough has reached an epidemic level. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports how this peak has local health officials worried.

California health officials have recently confirmed that cases of pertussis also known as whooping cough have reached epidemic proportions in the state.

The Department of Public Health reported more than 3,400 cases so far this year. That’s a thousand more cases than all of last year.

Craig Kohlruss / Just One Breath - Reporting On Health Collaborative / The Fresno Bee

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will include the fungus that causes valley fever on a list of pathogens eligible for federal research funding.

Experts like John Galgiani from the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona say the move will aid in the development of drugs to treat the disease.

"It's another example of increasing recognition of the importance of this problem," Galgiani said. "And repeated recognition can only help but identify this as an unmet need deserving of further funding."

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This is part of a Valley Public Radio original series on how the health of rivers impact the health of communities produced as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.