Valley Fever Bills Passed by Assembly
AB 1787 and AB 1788 approved with unanimous, bi-partisan support
SACRAMENTO – Today, the Assembly unanimously approved Assembly Bills (AB) 1787 and 1788, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), which would 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.
“The record numbers of cases that we see occurring with Valley Fever means that more and more families are being affected by this disease,” said Assemblymember Salas. “It is critical that we have the right mechanisms in place for local and state officials to most effectively help the thousands of victims of Valley Fever.”
It was recently reported by the Kern County Public Health Department that Valley Fever cases had increased for the fourth straight year in Kern County, rising to 2,929 confirmed cases, including nine deaths. Provisional cases reported by the California Department indicate that 2017 will be the second consecutive year with a record high number of cases. 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.
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.
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 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), and a budget proposal requesting $7 million in funding for Valley Fever research and outreach.
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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.