Valley Fever Institute secures $2 million

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The Kern County Valley Fever Institute has secured another $2 million in state funding.   

Valley Fever, a sometimes deadly infection, took the lives of 6 people and infected almost 3,000 in Kern County last year.

During Tuesday’s news conference, organizers said one of the things these new funds would be used for is to bring awareness.

“I woke up new year’s day 2012 with a hangover,” said Rob Purdie, patient and program development director for the Valley Fever Institute. “The problem was, I wasn’t drinking.”

Purdie woke up with a headache, dry mouth, and body aches. Thinking it was a simple cold, he got up and went to the doctors. They prescribed antibiotics.

“It didn’t help,” said Purdie.

He visited a different doctor and was prescribed more antibiotics. And then a third doctor, but the prescriptions weren’t helping.

“The next day I added another symptom to my list,”  said Purdie. “Now I had headaches and blurred vision. I went to the hospital and they said I think we know what you have.”

Kern Medical diagnosed him with Valley Fever – a respiratory infection caused by a fungus found in the soil and dirt. If not treated, the infection can be deadly. And up until now, no cure has been found for it.

“I will take medication for the rest of my life or until they find a cure,”  said Purdie. “I’m reliant on medication.”

The Valley Fever Institute is not giving up hope on finding that cure.

Tuesday, Assemblyman Rudy Salas presented the institute with a check for $2 million in state funds. This is additional to the $3 million they received last year. The $5 million is part of a total of $8 million set aside in the 2018-2019 budget for Valley Fever research and outreach.

“This is money that we know is desperately needed in the valley,” said Salas. “That is desperately needed for families affected by Valley Fever. I’m just happy the state of California said yes we care about families in the valley, we care about families affected in the valley.”

“As a patient, there’s nothing more important emotionally than knowing that someone cares about your situation and is doing something about it,” said Purdie.

Tuesday the board of supervisors proclaimed August as Valley Fever awareness month in Kern County. 

August 10 is the 8th annual Valley Fever Walk at the Kern County Museum starting at 7 a.m.  

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