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valley fever

Kerry Klein/KVPR

The fungal disease valley fever is most common in dry, desert areas of California and Arizona, and diagnoses tend to spike after dust storms and dry, windy weather. What’s less common is more than one case of the disease in the same family. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we travel to a valley fever fundraiser in Bakersfield, where father-daughter pair Warren and Jessica Boone describe how they both contracted the disease while working for an oil company in Bakersfield.

Sean Work / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

Assemblymember Rudy Salas says California needs to do more to track valley fever cases, and fund research into the disease. Last month he introduced legislation that in Sacramento that would provide $2 million in funding for the disease, which is especially prevalent in the San Joaquin Valley. Salas spoke to Valley Public Radio this week about the bill and it's path forward at the capitol. 

Assemblyman Seeks Valley Fever Funding, Overhaul Of Reporting Guidelines

Feb 21, 2017
Courtesy KABC Los Angeles / Center For Health Journalism Collaborative

Responding to a surge in cases and inconsistent reporting practices, Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) introduced legislation Tuesday that would allocate millions of dollars to valley fever vaccine research and streamline information sharing.

Assembly Bill 1279 would bring $2 million to an already-established state fund for valley fever vaccine research and create guidelines for how local, state and federal agencies report cases.

3D Imaging Could Answer Fundamental Questions About Valley Fever

Feb 21, 2017
TGEN

A Phoenix-based laboratory is capturing detailed images of the fungus that causes valley fever, hoping to better understand how it works.

The research could shed light on why the disease spreads at higher rates for Americans of African, Filipino and Mexican descent than others, said Bridget Barker, an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University and the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN).

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition FM89's Jeffrey Hess reports from the World Ag Expo about what farmers think about President Trump. We also hear about what all this rain means for Lake Isabella. Later we hear from Reporter Kerry Klein about a group that takes the region's excess chihuahuas and send them to Minnesota. We also hear from Bakersfield California Reporter Harold Pierce on his latest piece on Valley Fever. And we end the show with a our latest  installment of the stations podcast Outdoorsy. 

Juan Solis Lives A Life In The Shadows, His Health Destroyed By Valley Fever

Feb 21, 2017
Casey Christie / The Bakersfield Californian

When Juan Solis shuffles out of his dark bedroom, he’s careful not to get too close to the windows.

He makes sure he only walks his dogs at night.

If he must go out during the day, he lathers on sunscreen, makes sure his legs and arms are covered, even during the peak of summer in Bakersfield’s blistering heat. And he never forgets his sunhat.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we learn about how valley fever once harmed prisoners throughout the region, KVPR Reporter Kerry Klein has that story. Later we hear from KVPR's Jeffrey Hess about the state of Kern County libraries. FM89 Reporters Ezra David Romero and Kerry Klein team up to report on the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District's new plan to curb PM2.5 emissions. Also in the show we hear from locals about what Mayor Ashley Swearengin did and didn't do well in her eight years in office.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

As communities across the southwest struggle to prevent valley fever, a sometimes-debilitating fungal disease, one community appears to have made progress: California state prisons, where inmates are at a significantly lower risk of valley fever than they used to be. Here, we explore why—starting with one man who wasn’t so lucky.

Richard Nuwintore was barely three weeks into his sentence at Taft Correctional Institution when he began to cough and experience chest pain. Within a few days, it was obvious something was wrong.

Federal Funding Fuels New Valley Fever Research

Dec 11, 2016

For seven years, Dr. George Thompson at the University of California, Davis, collected DNA samples from patients for research into valley fever.

He sought funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest funder of primary biomedical research in the U.S., but could not secure any money to pursue his inquiry: Do genes protect some people from getting sick after inhaling the fungus that causes valley fever?

Accurate Valley Fever Counts Elude Health Officials

Nov 28, 2016
Casey Christie / The Bakersfield Californian

Estimates of the number of valley fever cases recorded by local, state and federal agencies vary so widely that they call into question the accuracy of the figures released to the public, a Center for Health Journalism Collaborative investigation has found.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

The fungal disease can afflict individuals of any age and ethnic group—even those who have lived and worked in the valley for decades. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we travel to the annual Valley Fever Walk in Bakersfield, where a 54-year-old Kern County man shares his story of overcoming the disease.  

CDC Technology Advances Promise Better Valley Fever Detection

Nov 21, 2016
THE CENTER FOR HEALTH JOURNALISM COLLABORATIVE

New technology could reveal the microscopic, sometimes deadly spores that cause valley fever that currently float in the air undetected.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is developing  a sensor that can detect levels of the cocci fungus in the air and soil, said Christopher Braden, deputy director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging Zoonotic Infectious Diseases branch. The agency has been working on the technology for three years, and Braden is hopeful the sensors could be moved into wider use over the next few years.

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.

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