Image via Assembly Member Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield)
Written by Gabriel Dillard
California Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) has set his sights on combating valley fever with the introduction of a package of bills. Assembly Bills (AB) 1787, 1788, 1789 and 1790 target the disease through doctor training, workers’ protection and streamlining the reporting and confirming of valley fever cases.
“Valley fever has had—and continues to have—an incredibly devastating impact on so many families and people in California,” Salas said. “It is tragically underdiagnosed and over recent years, the rate of infections has spiked alarmingly across the state to a record high.”
Coccidioidomycosis, or valley fever, is a fungal respiratory infection found in the soil, and is caused by breathing in spores in dry and dusty areas. In 2016, the California Department of Public Health reported 5,372 confirmed cases of valley fever in California, the highest number recorded since 1995, when the state began reporting. It believed that last year’s numbers were even higher and in San Luis Obispo County, six residents died from Valley fever.
The package includes:
Setting an annual reporting deadline of March 1 for local health officers to report to the Department of Public Health all valley fever cases.
Authorization of the Department of Public Health to confirm cases of valley fever through testing alone and without the need for clinical criteria.
Strengthening protections for workers by requiring Cal/OSHA to adopt safety and health standards for the prevention and control of valley fever.
Establishing enhanced physician training on valley fever prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Salas’ district includes the cities of Corcoran, Hanford, Lemoore, Armona, Kettleman City and Stratford.