Two Salas Valley Fever Bills Signed by Governor

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Assemblymember Rudy Salas attends a valley fever symposium

AB 1787 and AB 1788 standardize and streamline Valley Fever reporting

SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law 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.

“This is a big win for the thousands of valley fever patients and families affected by this disease,” said Assemblymember Salas. “This is the culmination of years of working to make progress on a disease that has not always received the attention that it warrants. These bills will help to ensure that our state has the most accurate valley fever data available so that health officials can respond to the growing number of cases in our state.”

“AB 1787 will improve valley fever data collection by ensuring accuracy and consistent data throughout the state,” said Matt Constantine, Director of Public Health at Kern County. “Having the most up-to-date, accurate data is critical to our ability to track and understand trends surrounding valley fever. I greatly appreciate the efforts of Assemblymember Salas and the support of the legislature and governor in approving AB 1787 because it is a simple, common sense solution that will help us be able to focus on reducing the risk to patients and improving outcomes for valley fever patients.”

“Valley Fever Americas Foundation is proud to have been a part of the bipartisan efforts to get these bills approved,” said Rob Purdie of Valley Fever Americas Foundation. “The governor’s signature on these bills is another milestone in a legislative journey that was begun several years ago. We look forward to building on this year’s success as we prepare for next year’s efforts.”

AB 1787 would standardize the reporting process by establishing an annual deadline for the California Department of Public Health (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.

This has been a momentous year for Valley Fever in California. Assemblymember Salas worked to secure $8 million in the 2018-19 state budget to address the valley fever epidemic through research and outreach. In addition to the funding secured in the budget, Assemblymember Salas introduced a comprehensive valley fever legislative package of four bills early in the year that sought to address different aspects of the disease, including the two bills dealing with reporting that were today signed by the governor. One bill that sought to improve worker safety as it relates to valley fever – AB 1789 – was held in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. The fourth remaining valley fever bill – AB 1790, the Valley Fever Education, Early Diagnosis, and Treatment Act – is awaiting approval in the Assembly, whereupon, if approved, it will be sent to the governor. AB 1790 seeks to raise awareness among healthcare providers, physicians and the public about the symptoms, treatment and diagnosis of valley fever.

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.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas presenting a valley fever bill in Health Committee

Assemblymember Rudy Salas with Rob Purdie at the annual Valley Fever Walk

Assemblymember Rudy Salas introducing the valley fever legislative package

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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.