News / USA

    Valley Fever Raises Concerns in California, Arizona

    Valley Fever Raises Concerns in California, Arizonai
    X
    May 21, 2013 1:50 AM
    A longstanding health problem in California's Central Valley has worsened in recent years, leading health officials to order the relocation of 3,000 prisoners from two state prisons. But the disease affects much of the population in some rural communities and, Mike O'Sullivan reports, while it often goes unnoticed, it sometimes can be devastating for patients.
    A longstanding health problem in California's Central Valley has worsened in recent years, leading health officials to order the relocation of 3,000 prisoners from two state prisons.  But the disease affects much of the population in some rural communities and, while it often goes unnoticed, it sometimes can be devastating for patients.

    Dale Pulde is selling his California home because he's unable to meet his payments.  The motorcycle mechanic and drag car racer was infected with Valley Fever in California's Central Valley and has mostly been unable to work. He used to race in the valley.  

    He would often have aches and pains when he returned to his home in Los Angeles and, one year, he developed a terrible cough.  At first, he coughed so hard that he blacked out.

    “Breaking out in welts and sweats.  The doctors didn't know what to do, and they had me loaded full of [the anti-inflammatory drug] prednisone and all kinds of different things, and it was basically getting worse," said Pulde.

    In late 2010, doctors diagnosed him with Valley Fever, and he's been taking anti-fungal drugs since then, including one that costs nearly $1,000 a bottle.  

    Valley Fever, known to doctors as coccidioidomycosis, is spread by fungal spores released into the air when the soil is disturbed.  It's becoming more common as people move into once rural areas, including California's Central Valley and other semi-arid areas of the US southwest, especially Arizona, and parts of Latin America.

    Doctor Robert Kaplan is a specialist who teaches at the University of California, Irvine.  He says half of those infected show no symptoms, while others have aches and fever. In a a minority of patients, he says, there is lung disease and, in one percent, more serious conditions.  

    “The most important one is meningitis, where it affects the lining of the brain and the spinal cord, and that can be a very, very bad disease," said Kaplan.

    Valley Fever can also spread to the bones and, at its worst, can be fatal.

    It's hardest on people with depressed immune systems and, for reasons not yet clear, on certain racial groups, says Dr. Claire Panosian Dunavan, a specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles.  

    “Filipinos, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asians," said Dunavan.

    But others with little susceptibility are also vulnerable, like Seattle resident Sharon Filip.  She is Caucasian and was healthy but contracted the disease while visiting Arizona. Now, she operates a website called Valley Fever Survivor with her son David.

    “I was a shadow of who I was beforehand.  And I should also say, I never had an immuno-compromised situation.  I was not sick.  I never was on medication," said Filip.

    On the website, she has described her battle against the disease in graphic detail.  She says Valley Fever should get more attention.

    Dr. Dunavan agrees.

    “I think the first priority is to raise the awareness of patients and doctors who should be diagnosing it, trying to put people on treatment if it's warranted," she said.

    There is so far no cure or vaccine to prevent Valley Fever, and reported cases are increasing.  Doctors say, for now, early detection is the most effective way to fight the disease.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora