FDA adds priority to the fight against valley fever

FDA adds priority to the fight against valley fever »Play Video

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration added valley fever to a list of nationally regulated diseases.

Valley fever is commonly spread through fungal spores found especially in the soil of California’s San Joaquin Valley.

In years past, the disease has not gained much-needed national attention, because it's mainly spread in the soil of the southwestern United States.

Kern County Public Health Officer Dr. Claudia Jonah said it is a very important feat that valley fever has been finally added the U.S. Food and Drug Administration list of “qualifying pathogens.”

The disease’s addition to the list implements a provision to the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now, GAIN, to include valley fever as a national priority in the fight for a cure.

Jonah said awareness about the disease is important.

“Now, we're that much closer to getting treatments that go to market ...,” said Jonah.

Currently, the only treatment for valley fever is anti-fungal medication, which in some cases patients have to take for the rest of their life.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy co-chairs the Congressional Valley Fever Task Force with Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona. The task force has lobbied for more public research.
Public health officials report around 2,700 people in Kern County were infected with the valley fever in 2011.