Kern Co., Rep. McCarthy target valley fever with new efforts

Kern Co., Rep. McCarthy target valley fever with new efforts
Valley fever hot spots are seen in a map from the Valley Fever Vaccine Project of the Americas website.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The Kern County Public Health Services Department has launched a valley fever website.

A typical year sees 500 cases of valley fever in Kern County, according to the site. In that typical year, five local residents will die of the disease.

Valley fever is contracted when a person breathes in a certain fungus found in the soil of dry, low rainfall areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Valley Fever is a common cause of pneumonia in endemic areas.

At least 30 percent to 60 percent of people who live in an endemic region are exposed to the fungus at some point during their lives, according to the CDC. In most people, the infection will go away on its own. But, for people who develop severe infections or chronic pneumonia, medical treatment is necessary.

"Valley fever is and will always be in the soil in Kern County," reads a portion of the county's new website.

"Our goal for developing this website is to provide a comprehensive location that engages and empowers the community to understand the impact Valley Fever has in Kern County," the site reads.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Congressman Kevin McCarthy's office announced a bipartisan Congressional task force on valley fever, an effort to bring awareness to the fight against this disease.