(Sacramento) The Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee has recommended Senator Jean Fuller’s (R-Bakersfield) request for $3 million for Valley Fever research at the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical.
The request is now part of the 2018/19 budget compromise that will be voted on next week by the Senate and Assembly. If approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, it would secure funding that will substantially expand research and treatment facilities at the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical Center.
“This is great news in the fight against Valley Fever. It is the culmination of years of work to raise awareness of this devastating disease and to prioritize the resources that are so badly needed for research and treatment,” said Senator Fuller. “Kern Medical is a leader in this fight and this investment will help expand their research for better treatments, and ultimately a cure.”
According to recent preliminary data from Kern County Public Health, Valley Fever infected 2,929 people and killed 9 in Kern County in 2017, and represents the 4th consecutive yearly increase in reported cases.
“Countless patients and families will benefit from the actions taken today by our dedicated legislators. We are grateful that this funding will remain right here in Kern County supporting the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical. The 3 million dollars will allow us to continue our mission to increase education & awareness for the public, patients and health care providers; provide the best patient care available and promote research that includes epidemiology, clinical drug development, prevention, immunology and immunizations,” said Russell V. Judd, CEO, Kern Medical.
Valley Fever, or Coccidioidomycosis, is a fungus found in the soil of dry, low rainfall areas. Valley Fever is caused by air or soil disturbance of tiny fungi, which live and breed within the soil. When the dust containing the spores is breathed in, the fungus attacks the respiratory system, causing infection that can lead to symptoms that resemble a cold, influenza, or pneumonia.
The $3 million for research at the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical is part of an $8 million one-time General Fund expenditure for Valley Fever outreach and research, which also includes $2 million for outreach and awareness at the Department Public Health and $3 million for research for the University of California.
The initial request was made on February 8, 2018 with Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) and Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) signing on as coauthors.
“Fighting Valley Fever has been one of our top priorities and I am very pleased to partner with Jean to bring tremendous state resources to help the residents of Kern County who are affected by this devastating disease,” said Fong. “Kern Medical is the premier institution that will continue to lead our efforts to effectively treat and eradicate Valley Fever.”
Following the Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee’s approval, the 2018/19 State Budget will be heard and voted on in the Senate and Assembly. The California Constitution requires that the Legislature pass the budget bill by June 15.