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California Outdoor Workers at Risk for Valley Fever
In an alert issued on July 20, the Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) warned that outdoor workers in California’s Central Valley, especially those who dig or disturb soil, are at risk for Valley Fever. Valley Fever, or coccidioidomycosis, is a disease caused by the inhalation of Coccidioides fungal spores, which are present in the soil of semiarid areas such as the Central Valley of California. According to CDPH, Valley Fever is “a serious illness that can cause disability or even death.”
CDPH’s warning came days after the department’s announcement of a large increase in the number of reported Valley Fever cases in California with an illness onset in 2016. Many counties in the Central Valley and Central Coast regions, where Valley Fever is most common, are among those most affected.
Information from the CDPH alert appears below.
From “Epidemiologic Summary of Coccidioidomycosis in California, 2016”: “The causes of the increase in 2016 are not well understood, but climatic and environmental factors favorable to Coccidioides proliferation and airborne release, and increases in non-immune populations in endemic areas, might have been contributing factors. … Coccidioidomycosis is highly endemic in the Central Valley and Central Coast of California and remains an important public health problem in the State.”
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