In Case You Missed it -- Bakersfield Californian: State should join Kern County’s leadership in fighting Valley Fever
Recently, I co-wrote a column on Valley Fever with Assemblymembers Vince Fong and Rudy Salas. It appeared in the Bakersfield Californian on September 11th.
There is nothing more painful than seeing loved ones suffer from the effects of disease and not understanding the root cause.
Adding to this difficulty is a misdiagnosis and, after being diagnosed, discovering that no cure exists.
In Kern County and across the Central Valley countless families struggle with this reality and indeed many have lost loved ones to Valley Fever — or what it has rightfully been referred to, the silent epidemic.
Valley Fever, or coccidioidomycosis, is a fungal disease caused by fungal spores found in the soil in dusty, dry areas. It is spread through the air by virtually any activity that produces dust, with the most severe cases affecting the bones, skin, eyes, and even the brain.
Although the disease is endemic to Central Valley and Kern County in particular, the statewide impact of Valley Fever is evidenced by the rise in reported cases across numerous counties — 37 counties reported.
San Luis Obispo County has already seen five deaths caused by Valley Fever this year. Los Angeles County has also seen the number of infections increase. In 2016, a total of 714 cases were reported, compared with 521 in 2015, a 37 percent increase.
Last year was an especially difficult year in the battle against this illness. Statewide, a total of 5,372 cases were reported, a 71 percent increase over the previous year, with Kern County having the largest percentage increase. The illness is so common in our communities that it is nearly impossible to meet someone who hasn’t contracted Valley Fever or doesn’t know someone who has. Because the symptoms are similar to the flu, Valley Fever can be misdiagnosed and the illness can go untreated.
In spite of these challenges, the residents of our communities have resolved to take matters into their own hands. In Kern County fashion, we have risen to the challenge with determination to eradicate Valley Fever. Through the work of numerous nonprofits and the stories of countless survivors, awareness and understanding of the illness has grown exponentially. National attention was garnered with a Valley Fever symposium that brought to Kern County the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Even nonprofits and entities located in Kern County have partnered with officials in Arizona to test a promising vaccine.
Though finding a cure remains elusive, the resilience of Kern residents has undoubtedly helped to save lives and inspire a new generation to continue the work of making Valley Fever a relic of the past.
As legislators, we have a duty to advocate for the well-being of our communities, but also be reminded of a greater good outside of our districts. Our state should not ignore the giant leaps our county has made to educate, raise awareness for and eradicate Valley Fever.
Together we have brought greater awareness of Valley Fever by supporting funding for research, and advocating for outreach and education programs to increase public awareness by state health officials. Our efforts are aimed at building partnerships between the state and local officials to combat Valley Fever.
As the legislature prepares to adjourn for the year, we will continue to shine a light on Valley Fever in these final days of the legislative session and into the future working with partners on all levels. Valley Fever has affected our region, our families, and our friends. It has forced many to retire early, and strained our healthcare resources. Together, we will continue to raise awareness and fight for the resources necessary to combat Valley Fever and we ask everyone to join our efforts.
I was proud to author Senate Resolution 61 declaring September 2017 as Chiari Malformation Awareness Month.
Chiari Malformation is a serious neurological disorder affecting more than 300,000 people in the United States. It is a congenital malformation in which the bottom of the brain, known as the cerebellum, is crowded in the skull cavity and forces the lower tips of the cerebellar hemispheres, or tonsils, into the hole in the bottom of the skull, or foramen magnum.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institute of Health is conducting research to find alternative surgical options and to identify the cause of Chiari Malformations to create improved treatment and prevention plans.
On Tuesday, October 24, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration will hold a small business seminar at the Energy Education Center from 8:30am to 12:00pm.
Topics will include how to avoid common sales and use tax problems.
The Energy Edcuation Center is located at 4175 South Laspina Street in Tulare.
I was proud to be part of Ridgecrest’s Parade of 1000 Flags. The parade brings together members of the Ridgecrest community including police and fire personnel, men and women of our military, and many families from throughout the region.
Thanks to all of the volunteers and organizers for your hard work to put together this patriotic event.
Team Fuller, along with Senator Vidak’s office, presented Senate Certificates in honor of the opening of Links for Life’s newest location. They are the only breast cancer nonprofit where 100% of the proceeds stay in Kern County. It is a wonderful organization for women and men going through the difficulties of breast cancer to receive support and assistance.
Team Fuller presented a Senate Certificate to recognize Frazier Mountain Focus Central’s 15th anniversary. Focus Central provides training, experience and exposure in the performing, visual and vocational arts in the Frazier Mountain community.
The Kern High School District’s Bakersfield Adult School opened “Job Spot,” an educational and employment resource.
The facility has access to technology, a conference room and two skills labs. Additionally, it provides local job information and educational support from Bakersfield College.
Team Fuller also joined the ceremony to show their support for this important community resource.
Every Kid in a Park
The United States has incredible landscapes and an amazing national parks system. Many of these parks are located right here in California.
Whenever possible we must encourage our young people to visit these parks and learn first-hand about their history and about the forces of nature that created them.
In order to make these parks more accessible to schoolchildren throughout the nations, several federal agencies have joined forces to support the Every Kid in a Park program. This program allows fourth graders free entry to more than 2,000 federally-managed lands and waters nationwide for an entire year - September 1 through August 31.
Follow this link to download and print a voucher to allow free entry for the student and three accompanying adults to National Parks.
With 28 National Parks in California, this program is a great opportunity to explore California. Also, the Every Kid in a Park website provides numerous educational activities, the free voucher, and more information about the program.
Mobile Office hours are held to facilitate communication between my office and the communities we serve. The following is a list of Mobile Office locations for the month of October. Hope you can find the time to stop by!
Taft Chamber of Commerce
Mojave Air & Spaceport
California City Chamber of Commerce
Tulare Chamber of Commerce
Ridgecrest City Hall
Barstow Visitor’s Center at the Harvey House
Frazier Mountain Communities Family Resource Center
Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce
Kern River Valley County Admin. Building
Monthly mobile office locations will also be posted on the Senate web site. To schedule an appointment with a member of the staff, please call the District Office at (661) 323-0443.