Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct when the last Valley Fever Walk occurred.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Valley Fever Institute’s Valley Fever Walk returned Saturday for the first time since 2019. 

Dozens gathered at the Kern County Museum Saturday morning for the annual event that aims to raise money for the Institute’s overall activities of patient care, public information and professional education.

“Valley fever is one of those terrible diseases. It has been with us for a long time. It may continue to be with us for a long time. The importance of finding a cure. Finding a vaccine is vital,” said Scott Thygerson, CEO of Kern Medical.

“Valley fever affects people by and large in the Central Valley, some places in Washington State, maybe Arizona because it affects such a limited range. It is hard for us to get the attention of national funding government agencies to say the importance of this because the people who get it can have terrible effects on their lives.”

“This county is the most impacted, probably in the United States. This is a very important disease here. We have very high numbers of patients – half the total number of patients in the state in any given year are usually from Kern County,” Dr. Royce Johnson, Valley Fever Institute’s medical director told 17 News.

Each year, the Valley Fever Institute shares grant proceeds with UC Davis, UCLA, and UC San Diego to study certain kinds of cells and patients’ genetics to find out why some people don’t get sick with Valley Fever, and why some get moderately ill with others getting severely ill. 

For more information on the Valley Fever Walk, click here