Salas' Valley Fever Bills Pass Committee

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Assemblymember Salas presents Valley Fever legislation in Assembly Committee on Health

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assembly Bills (AB) 1787 and 1788, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), passed out of the Assembly Committee on Health with bi-partisan support. The two bills will help streamline and standardize the reporting process for Valley Fever, allowing for greater efficiency and accuracy in the confirmation and collection of Valley Fever cases across California. 

“Valley Fever cases continue to skyrocket across the state, which is why it is important we have the right mechanisms in place to test and count Valley Fever cases,” said Assemblymember Salas. “We need to have accurate data to enact meaningful legislation and bring much-needed resources to help the thousands of families affected by Valley Fever.”

“We have taken a position of strong support on all the Valley Fever bills because we believe they offer a smart, measured improvement,” said Rob Purdie of the Valley Fever Americas Foundation. “I find the level of support from our elected officials for our cause personally motivating and inspiring.”

“Working closely and in partnership with Kern Public Health officials, these measures will ensure that state and local officials have the best information in their fight against Valley Fever,” said Assemblymember Fong. “I am committed to bringing every available resource to health authorities fighting Valley Fever on the front lines each and every day.”

Valley Fever is a fungal, respiratory infection also known as coccidioidomycosis. It is caused by breathing microscopic fungal spores found in the soil in dry, dusty areas throughout California and the Southwestern region of the United States. It spreads through the air when soil is disturbed and can be carried for hundreds of miles. The disease can spread to skin, bones, eyes, spinal cord and brain, and result in expensive lifelong treatment. In the most severe cases, it is fatal. There is no cure or vaccine for Valley Fever.

According to the California Department of Public Health, a record high of 5,372 cases were reported in 2016. The provisional numbers released by CDPH indicate that 2017 will likely be another record year for Valley Fever, with 7,471 cases initially reported. However, these statistics do not tell the whole picture. Valley Fever is a dramatically underreported disease – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 150,000 cases go unreported every year in the United States.

The two bills are part of Assemblymember Salas’ Valley Fever legislative package, which includes bills that would improve worker safety (AB 1789) and enhance physician training (AB 1790). AB 1787 would standardize the reporting process by establishing annual reporting and collection deadlines for Valley Fever while also improving communication and coordination between CDPH and local health departments as it relates to Valley Fever. AB 1788 would provide a standardized case definition that allows positive laboratory test data to confirm cases of Valley Fever, which studies have shown to increase efficiency, reduce strain on resources, allow for enhanced surveillance, and maintain accuracy to improve the state’s ability to handle the record high, rapidly rising number of Valley Fever cases.

The bills passed out of committee with a 15-0 vote. AB 1787 and AB 1788 now advance to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

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Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Avenal, Corcoran, Delano, Hanford, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.