Salas Valley Fever Bills Pass Legislature, Advance to Governor

Monday, August 13, 2018

AB 1787 and AB 1788 standardize and streamline Valley Fever reporting

SACRAMENTO – Today, the Assembly unanimously passed two valley fever bills authored and introduced by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield). Assembly Bills (AB) 1787 and 1788 standardize and streamline the reporting process for valley fever, allowing for greater efficiency and accuracy in the confirmation and collection of Valley Fever cases across California.

“Almost everyone in the Central Valley has been personally affected by valley fever in one way or another – whether they have been infected themselves, or a loved one or a friend they know who has valley fever – and the impact of the disease can be life altering,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Working together with local and state health departments, researchers, advocates and survivors, we are making meaningful progress to help all those who have been affected by valley fever.”   

“Orphan diseases like Valley Fever can have a major regional impact and still receive little attention outside of their endemic areas,” said Rob Purdie of Valley Fever Americas Foundation. “The bills that are moving on to the Governor’s desk today are another huge step forward that will help us have a more accurate count of those diagnosed with the disease.”

This year, the Kern County Public Health Department announced that valley fever cases had increased for the fourth straight year in Kern County, including nine deaths in 2017 alone.  Recently, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released the valley fever confirmed totals for 2017 and saw a record high in the state for the second consecutive year, with nearly 2,000 more cases recorded last year than the total in 2016 (5,509 cases reported in 2016 and 7,466 cases reported in 2017). In addition, 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.

This has been a momentous year for Valley Fever in California. Along with a record number of cases being recorded, Salas worked to secure $8 million in the 2018-19 state budget to combat the valley fever epidemic through research and outreach.

AB 1787 would standardize the reporting process by establishing an annual deadline for CDPH to collect valley fever cases and ensure CDPH and local health departments have consistent, accurate data for Valley Fever.

AB 1788 would provide a modified 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.

AB 1787 and AB 1788 passed on a 77-0 and 78-0 vote, respectively. They now move to the governor’s desk for consideration.

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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.