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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.