State Will Obey Order To Move Inmates Amid Valley Fever Outbreak
On Tuesday, California officials said they will "fully comply" with a court order to relocate up to 2,600 prisoners who are considered at risk of contracting valley fever, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports (St. John, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 7/2).
About Valley Fever
Researchers estimate that more than 150,000 people nationwide contract an airborne fungus known as valley fever, or coccidioidomycosis, each year.
The cocci fungus is commonly found in soil in much of the Southwestern U.S., and is especially common in California's Central Valley.
People can contract valley fever by breathing in cocci fungal spores.
Details of Current Outbreak
In early May, CDC began investigating the deaths of more than three dozen California inmates who had contracted the fungus at Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons in San Joaquin Valley.
The investigation was launched after federal receiver J. Clark Kelso -- who is charged with monitoring the state's prison health care system -- ordered the relocation of about 3,200 high-risk inmates from the two prisons (California Healthline, 6/18).
Late last month, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson ordered California to move 2,600 inmates at risk of contracting valley fever out of the two prisons. The order gave the state seven days to begin the transfers and 90 days to complete the task. In addition, Henderson said no new inmates who are considered at risk of contracting the fungus should be sent to either prison (California Healthline, 6/25).
Details of State Announcement
Officials with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation this week said they will begin the "complicated logistics" of moving the inmates from Avenal and Pleasant Valley to other prisons.
They noted that more than 560 prisoners considered at a high risk of contracting the disease already have been moved since January.
State officials said they might ask for an extension to the 90-day timeline to finish the transfers (Walsh, Sacramento Bee, 7/3).
On Tuesday, KPCC's "Represent!" reported on the state's response to the court order (Small, "Represent!," KPCC, 7/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.