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Valley fever cases remain high in the Central Valley


The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and local health departments are reminding residents and healthcare providers that Valley fever cases typically peak in the fall, particularly in the Central Valley and Central Coast regions, including Kern, San Luis Obispo, Kings, Fresno, Tulare, Monterey and Merced counties.

Since 2014, there has been an increase in the number of Valley fever cases in California. Last year, more than 7,500 cases were confirmed, and early case counts for this year indicate that Valley fever activity remains high. As of Nov. 19, over 7,000 likely cases have been reported.

"People who live, work, or travel in areas where Valley fever is common are at higher risk of getting infected, especially if they work outdoors or participate in activities where soil is disturbed," says Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and CDPH Director. "If you have symptoms that include cough, fever, or difficulty breathing for more than a week, we encourage you to talk to a healthcare provider."

To reduce risk of Valley fever, take the following steps:

  • Avoid breathing in dirt or dust in areas where Valley fever is common
  • Stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed, when it’s windy outside and the air is dusty
  • Keep car windows closed and use recirculating air condition, while driving
  • Wear a properly fitted mask, if you must be outdoors while windy (an N95 respirator mask is suggested)
  • Avoid disturbing the soil, whenever possible

Valley fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis, or "cocci", is caused by breathing in the spores of a fungus that grows in the soil and dirt in certain areas of California. The fungal spores, which are too small to see, can be present in dust that gets into the air when it’s windy or when soil is disturbed, such as through digging during construction. This fungus usually infects the lungs and can cause respiratory symptoms including cough, fever, chest pain, and tiredness. In most people, the infection will go away on its own, but anyone who has these symptoms for more than a week should see a doctor or healthcare provider.

While anyone can get Valley fever, those most at-risk for severe disease include people over the age of 60, African Americans and Filipinos, pregnant women and those with diabetes or conditions that weaken the immune system.

Employers who have employees working outdoors should train workers about Valley fever symptoms and take steps to limit workers' exposure to dust, such as watering down soil before digging.

The State of California is taking action to raise awareness about Valley fever by allocating $2 million in the 2018-2019 budget to plan, develop, launch and evaluate a Valley Fever Awareness campaign that CDPH will launch in the coming months. Governor Gavin Newsom has also approved a bill to require construction employers engaging in specific work activities in counties where Valley fever is endemic to provide awareness training about Valley fever to their employees.

Additional information on Valley fever may be found on the CDPH's Valley fever website at this link: