Coccidioidomycosis, better known as Valley Fever, is a debilitating and progressive disease. It attacks the respiratory system, causing infections that can lead to symptoms that resemble a cold, influenza, or pneumonia.
Valley Fever is caused by the inhalation of tiny airborne fungi that live in the soil throughout the San Joaquin Valley, portions of the Sacramento Valley, desert regions, and southern California.
Valley Fever symptoms range from mild to severe. According to the Kern Public Health Services Department, “The most common symptoms are described as flu-like. They include cough, fever, headache, chills, sweats, chest pain, and feeling extra tired. Other symptoms that occur with Valley Fever include rashes (erythema nodosum and erythema multiforme) on lower legs and joint pain similar to arthiritis.”
If left untreated or mistreated, Valley Fever infections can spread from the lungs into the bloodstream, and can cause permanent damage to lung and bone tissue, and lead to fatal cases of meningitis.
While Valley Fever has been studied for the past 100 years, there is no known cure. However, medical research organizations like the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical, have dedicated themselves toward finding a vaccine and improving treatments.
California State Senator Jean Fuller has requested the 2018/19 State Budget include a grant to support studies, research and facilities that will increase awareness, study treatment effectiveness, and support efforts to find a cure.