Salas Valley Fever Bill Advances - $6 million included in Budget
AB 1279 approved by Assembly with funding for Valley Fever proposed in the budget
SACRAMENTO – The State Assembly has approved Assembly Bill (AB) 1279, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), with a 57-0 bipartisan vote. The bill will enhance the way Valley Fever infections are reported and boost educational outreach so that families know how to detect and treat infections early. In addition, the Assembly Budget Committee has included $6 million in the Assembly budget proposal to be spent over the next three years for these efforts.
“We can save lives by streamlining the detection, treatment, and reporting of Valley Fever infections,” said Assemblymember Salas. “AB 1279 shines a light on an important issue that affects thousands of California families each year in counties across the state.”
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports that the statewide number of Valley Fever cases for 2016 increased to more than 5,300, up from 3,000 cases reported in 2015. Kern County recently released their annual report showing that Valley Fever claimed six lives and infected nearly 2,000 people in 2016 – a 62% increase and the highest number of cases since 2012. In San Luis Obispo County, Valley Fever has already claimed five lives thus far in 2017.
Valley Fever is an infectious disease caused by a fungus called Coccidioides which lives in the soil and dirt in dry areas especially in parts of California affected by drought. The fungus usually infects the lungs causing flu-like symptoms. When Valley Fever is severe, patients may need to be hospitalized and, in rare cases, the infection can spread beyond the lungs to other organs and lead to death. The disease has been reported in up to 37 California counties and is found in some areas of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Texas, and parts of Mexico and Central and South America.
AB 1279 will establish a workgroup comprised of local health officers from the top five counties most affected by Valley Fever to improve the way infections are reported. The bill will also require CDPH to conduct educational awareness outreach to bring awareness to California families who live in areas where Valley Fever is prevalent.
The bill now advances to the State Senate with a hearing date pending. In addition, the Assembly Budget Committee proposal that provides $6 million over three years to address Valley Fever is still active and will be moved to the Budget Conference Committee.