Today the Valley Fever Institute was at Foothill High School educating biology students about the disease.
This is part of a newly established partnership with one of the biology teachers on campus; Raelyn Ruffus. Ruffus is also a physical science and Avid teacher at the high school.
She said it was her close encounter with the disease that spiked her interest and led her toward the special project in her classroom.
“It came at a really busy time that my husband got really sick and we were trying to figure out what it was. at first we thought it was pneumonia and then long behold it was valley fever,” said Ruffus.
Back in April, Ruffus’ husband was diagnosed with valley fever, a fungal infection found in the dirt and soil.
“We have three girls, I need to know the signs, I need to know the symptoms just to be a good mom,” said Ruffus. “Then, I just brought that into the classroom because I’m sure they have a similar story just like mine.”
And, she was right.
“When I was little, Ii actually caught it myself,” said Brandon Torres, junior at Foothill High School. “You don’t know, you just cough a lot. You can feel it, you feel very congested and it’s sometimes hard to breathe.”
So, Ruffus took it further than the classroom. She reached out to the Valley Fever Institute and formed a partnership.
“I said, we can help with the research part,” said Ruffus. “I have 200 bodies what do you want them to do? And, we came up with awareness being a good place to start.”
On Monday, Kern Medical professionals stepped in and educated the students about signs and symptoms of the disease.
In the classroom, the students are working on games to share with their classmates.
“The whole purpose of the game is once you play it you know how to survive valley fever,” said Ruffus.
Next they will host a health fair on campus for further awareness.
“It’s always important to have people know about things that could be caught out here,” said Dylan Turner, sophomore at Foothill High School.
The students hope to be able to open the health fair to the community, but have not received approval yet.