Valley Fever Cases Drop in State; Officials Unsure if Trend Will Continue
The number of valley fever cases in California decreased by more than 1,000 in 2012, but public health officials say it is too early to classify the decline as a long-term trend, the Stockton Record reports (Cook, Stockton Record, 6/3).
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 (California Healthline, 5/7).
Details of Valley Fever Cases
The number of valley fever cases reported in California decreased from 5,123 in 2011 to 4,094 in 2012, according to the California Department of Public Health.
However, the number of cases reported last year still is more than double the 1,727 cases reported in 2002, according to CDC.
Meanwhile, some counties have reported fewer valley fever cases in the early months of 2013, compared with the same period in recent years.
Comments From Health Officials
James Watt -- chief of DPH's Division of Communicable Disease Control -- in an email wrote, "The number of reported cases [of valley fever] in 2012 was still high compared to historical levels," adding, "The public and health care providers in high incidence areas should be aware that valley fever remains an important public health concern."
Kirt Emery -- manager of health assessment and an epidemiology program manager for the Kern County Public Health Services Department -- said, "We still donât have all the critical things that allow us to predict with a reasonable level of certainty what the fall's going to look like."
Some experts say that climate could influence the number of cases. According to public health officials, the exact effect of rain and wind on valley fever cases is unknown (Stockton Record, 6/3).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.