Senator Fuller, legislators request $3M for Valley Fever treatment

Senator Jean Fuller, along with Assemblymembers Vince Fong and Rudy Salas, submit $3 million budget request for Valley Fever treatment, outreach


SACRAMENTO – Valley Fever has been on the rise in the Central Valley over the last two years. A total of 5,121 statewide cases were reported between Jan 1, 2017 and Oct. 31, 2017. Over the same time the year before, there were 3,872 reported cases revealing an increase of 1,294 cases. The majority of cases are centralized in the Central Valley and in particular Kern and Tulare counties. Now legislators are working to get funding to help combat the disease.

Last week senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) who represents Exeter, Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), and Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) submitted a $3 million budget request to the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees for a grant to fund Valley Fever treatment research and outreach.

If approved, the grant would be funded as part of the 2018-19 state budget and is intended to fund efforts at the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical Center.

“Valley Fever is a devastating disease that if left untreated can cause permanent damage to lung and bone tissue, and swell the membrane surrounding the brain,” said Senator Fuller.  “Not only would this funding help raise awareness of Valley Fever, it would be a significant step toward finding an effective treatment.”

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.

“Valley Fever is a critical issue that Senator Fuller and I have and will continue to champion in Sacramento,” said Assemblyman Fong. “This funding request is a part of our joint effort with local health officials and doctors to provide treatment for this devastating disease and to do the necessary outreach so that those effected by Valley Fever can get the treatment they need as quickly as possible.”

“Funding is desperately needed for Valley Fever, a disease that is tragically underreported and misdiagnosed, and the number of victims only continues to rise across the state,” said Assemblyman Salas.  “This bi-partisan effort sounds the alarm that there is more we can do to help the thousands of victims and families that are affected by this disease.”

According to the Kern County Public Health Services Department, Valley Fever infected 2,310 people and killed 6 in Kern County in 2016.  These infections resulted in Kern County representing 40 percent of California’s reported cases.

“Kern Medical has been a leader in the care and research of Coccidioidomycosis and we now are taking the next step, by formalizing the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical to improve public education, patient education, provider education, patient care and research,” said Royce Johnson, MD – Medical Director of the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical.

The requests could be heard in budget subcommittees as soon as Feb. 26 in the Assembly, and March 22 in the Senate.

“Throughout my tenure in the legislature, I have worked to secure funding for Valley Fever research and to raise awareness of this devastating disease.  As I begin my final year in the Senate, I am confident the fight against Valley Fever will continue,” concluded Fuller.

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