Congressman David Valadao joins Congressional task force that hopes to develop vaccine for coccidioidomycosis
WASHINGTON D.C. – One of the Valley’s most dangerous lung diseases is not going away, and it isn’t COVID-19. Before the pandemic residents in California, but in particular the Central Valley has struggled with valley fever.
The dramatic increase of cases state wide have gotten the attention of Washington DC politicians like David Valadao. Two weeks ago he joined the Congressional Valley Fever Task Force which hopes to develop a vaccine for the disease.
“Currently, there is no cure or vaccine for valley fever. In the last year, we’ve watched as scientific innovation led to the development of a vaccine for COVID-19, changing the way we live our lives and our outlook on the future,” Valadao said. “It is my hope that through scientific innovation, a vaccine can be developed to eradicate this deadly disease as well.”
Valley fever—with the epidemiological name of coccidioidomycosis—is a serious fungal illness caused from inhaling certain fungi species found in soil. Cases are predominantly found in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and Washington.
In December 2019, the California Department of Public Health announced that new cases of valley fever reached 9,004. They cited above average rain fall that year as the potential culprit. Rain can disturb dry soil where the fungi that lead to valley fever rest. That is why public health experts in Tulare County caution residents to avoid breathing in dusty air and change their car filters on a regular basis. There are other preventative measures such as wearing masks outdoors, as well.
Arizona is home to the most cases of valley fever, but epicenter of cases in California is Kern County. In 2018 Kern County had over, 2,900 cases. And through the first 11 months of 2019 the county had 2,789 cases. Tulare, Kings and San Luis Obispo Counties were also on the higher range of cases.
“Valley fever is an illness that severely impacts the Central Valley, and I am proud to join my colleagues in an effort to raise awareness and find a solution,” Valadao said.