BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Valley Fever experts warned people to stay indoors Tuesday due to high winds that battered the Golden Empire.
The disease is caused by breathing in spores found in the soil of the Central Valley, but experts say you can take steps to lower your risk of getting the disease.
“With Valley Fever, education is key,” said Michelle Corson with Kern County Public Health Services. ” If you breathe in spores that live in our soil here in Kern County, you can become sick,” she continued.
The sickness comes with symptoms similar to that of the flu, but more severe. They include coughing, fever, headache, chills, sweats, chest pain, and fatigue. But there are ways to help lower your risks.
Public Health Services put up messages on electronic billboards across town, including one at the intersection of California Ave. and Chester Ave. It’s message read “keep doors and windows closed on windy days,” like today.
“Protect yourself,” Corson said. “It’s common sense. Stay indoors if possible. Close your windows and doors, try to do activities inside today.”
In 2017, some 2,969 cases were reported in the county. Most people with Valley Fever will never know it, having little to no symptoms at all. But for roughly 40 percent of those with Valley Fever, the disease is very much felt.
Rob Purdie was diagnosed with Valley Fever in 2012.
“[I had a] really bad headache. If you take your worst headache and multiply it a few times, you get about where I was,” he said of his early symptoms.
Since 2012, Purdie has been a patient at Kern Medical in its Valley Fever institute. At one point, he was coming in twice per week, but now, he goes in for treatment once every six weeks. He takes medications, including pills, and a liquid injection into his brain.
He hopes people understand the message to stay indoors.
“There are patients going in two to three times per week,” he said. “It’s really hard on people. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that. Until we can look at somebody and say you need to be really worried about valley fever if you ever get it, we need to make sure everybody understands the risk,” he continued.
Wednesday night at 6 p.m., Kern Medical will host a Valley Fever symposium featuring medical experts.
Meanwhile, the county has a website dedicated to Valley Fever: www.kerncountyvalleyfever.com. There, you can learn about resources made available to you and what more you can do to protect yourself.