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The City Where People Are Afraid To Breathe

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the uninspiring-nickname dept.

Earth 243

HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes "BBC reports that cases of an incurable illness called valley fever are multiplying at an alarming and mystifying rate in the American south-west. Few places have been hit as hard as Avenal, a remote city of 14,000 people, nestling in a dip in the floor of the San Joaquin Valley in what experts refer to as a 'hot zone' for coccidioidomycosis — an illness caused by the inhalation of tiny fungal spores that usually reside in the soil. 'On windy days you are more conscious of it,' says Enrique Jimenez. 'You breathe in through your nose, and try not to breathe in as much dust. I worked in the fields for a long time, my father managed a few crops out here, and we took precautions, wearing bandanas.' Valley Fever is not easy to treat. Anti-fungal drugs are available for serious cases but some patients don't respond and it can take years to clear up. It never leaves the body and symptoms can be triggered again. Some patients are on the drugs for life, at a crippling financial cost. During World War II, German prisoners held at a camp in Arizona fell ill. Germany reportedly invoked the Geneva Convention to try to get them moved. Longstanding concerns about valley fever were heightened recently when a federal health official ordered the transfer of more than 3,000 exceptionally vulnerable inmates from two San Joaquin Valley prisons where several dozen have died of the disease in recent years. Dale Pulde, a motorcycle mechanic in Los Angeles County, said he contracted the disease three years ago after traveling to Bakersfield in Kern County and was coughing so hard he was blacking out; he spit blood and couldn't catch his breath. For two months, doctors tested him for everything from tuberculosis to cancer until blood tests confirmed he had the fever. 'When I found out that health officials knew about (this disease) and how common it is, I was beside myself,' said Pulde. 'Why don't they tell people?'"

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hmm.. (5, Insightful)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year ago | (#44310291)

BBC is the closest news network to cover it?

Re:hmm.. (3, Interesting)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | about a year ago | (#44310471)

Of course the citizens are left to fend for themselves but the prisoners are evacuated in air conditioned buses.

Re:hmm.. (-1, Flamebait)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44310577)

Of course the citizens are left to fend for themselves but the prisoners are evacuated in air conditioned buses.

They are protected by protesters in San Francisco. Just like the homeless are, who continually trash Golden Gate park with their encampments. Clearly the people who whinge about looking after prisoner and vagrant rights have a skewed view.

Re:hmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310863)

I was amazed at the amount of homeless in San Fran. It was a huge culture shock to me.

Re:hmm.. (4, Insightful)

Daemonik (171801) | about a year ago | (#44310675)

Of course the citizens are left to fend for themselves but the prisoners are evacuated in air conditioned buses.

The prisoners are the direct responsibility of the State and therefore the State is liable for their health and well being.

Re:hmm.. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44310891)

Dozens dying over "several years" puts this disease on a much much lower scale than the cold or the flu.

This isnt the bubonic plague.

Re:hmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311001)

Dozens dying over "several years" puts this disease on a much much lower scale than the cold or the flu.

This isnt the bubonic plague.

No... on the other hand most people get over the cold or the flu after a week or two. Even the bubonic plague will go away (if you dont die). As I'm sure you've read the article - this particular disease can't be cured. Only kept under control (somewhat and not for everyone) by expensive drugs. So in a way, its a lot MORE of a problem than cold or the flu.

Re:hmm.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311025)

No... on the other hand most people get over the cold or the flu after a week or two. Even the bubonic plague will go away (if you dont die). As I'm sure you've read the article - this particular disease can't be cured. Only kept under control (somewhat and not for everyone) by expensive drugs. So in a way, its a lot MORE of a problem than cold or the flu.

Poster of that comment here: silly me... I assumed the basic facts in the article might at least be correct, it being the BBC and all. It seems that you _can_ get over valley fever?

"The disease is not transmitted from person to person. The infection ordinarily resolves leaving the patient with a specific immunity to re-infection"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_fever

Re:hmm.. (4, Informative)

Your.Master (1088569) | about a year ago | (#44311021)

It was 40 out of 8000 people that died. That's a 0.5% death toll in 7 years, which annualizes to 0.07%. That's way higher than most Flus (2009 was relatively deadly at 0.03%). And those Flus are worldwide averages, not localized to prisons in developed countries.

Re:hmm.. (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44310933)

I'm fairly sure that the prisoners will gladly be left to fend for themselves if the state cares to take that option.

Re:hmm.. (3, Insightful)

VanGarrett (1269030) | about a year ago | (#44311015)

The prisoners may be free men again some day, and have the same right to health that everyone else does. Free men are able to leave the dangerous areas as they please. Prisoners don't have that choice.

Re:hmm.. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44310567)

BBC is the closest news network to cover it?

I live in California and the first broadcaster I heard of the Asiana aircraft crash at SFO was the BBC World Service.

On topic - I drive through Avenel a number of times each year. All the better reason to keep the windows rolled up, the sunroof closed and be glad my car has an air filter on the ventilation intake.

Re:hmm.. (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about a year ago | (#44310739)

I too drive through there a couple of times a year. I do all of the above plus put the HVAC system on Recirculate rather than pulling outside air.

Re:hmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310767)

BBC is the closest news network to cover it?

Well, obviously, the government knows best.

Right?

Governments would never put their hold on power over your health, now would they? Especially not in the US, and doubly especially not in oh-so-caring California....

Re:hmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310949)

I live in Phoenix AZ, another area Valley Fever is present, and it's on the news and radio after every major dust storm. In addition to the news, there's government paid advertisements warning of the common symptoms.

Re:hmm.. (1)

avandesande (143899) | about a year ago | (#44310967)

It's common knowledge in the SW, but likely generates lots of clicks for the BBC.

Re:hmm.. (4, Insightful)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year ago | (#44310979)

American media are busy trying to inform you of the NSA being the good guys on their five-hour long morning show. Later, they want you to know about the upcoming season of Honey Boo Boo. After they tell you all this they want to show you some Commercials so you can buy a Laptop with Windows 8. After the break they want to have a sit-down with some self-proclaimed former attorney that will explain to you why the Jury was wrong about the Zimmerman verdict, they'll be sure to spend two whole hours with limited Commercial breaks on that fiasco.

how "The Last of Us" starts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310299)

tsia

Re:how "The Last of Us" starts? (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44310467)

Or "Valley of the Wind."

The City Where People Are Afraid To Breathe (0)

brian0918 (638904) | about a year ago | (#44310315)

Isn't that an city in China that is mining rare earth metals for wind turbines [dailymail.co.uk] ?

The lake instantly assaults your senses. Stand on the black crust for just seconds and your eyes water and a powerful, acrid stench fills your lungs. For hours after our visit, my stomach lurched and my head throbbed. We were there for only one hour, but those who live in Mr Yan’s village of Dalahai, and other villages around, breathe in the same poison every day.

Re:The City Where People Are Afraid To Breathe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310579)

I wish Americans would realize that the dailymail is the UK's equivilent to the National Enquirer before posting links to it.

Re:The City Where People Are Afraid To Breathe (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44310817)

In China, the true cost of Britain's clean, green wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale

They're being ridiculous. Nobody's forcing anyone in the UK to use rare-earth-based generators in wind turbines.

Re:The City Where People Are Afraid To Breathe (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44310591)

Isn't that an city in China that is mining rare earth metals for wind turbines [dailymail.co.uk] ?

The lake instantly assaults your senses. Stand on the black crust for just seconds and your eyes water and a powerful, acrid stench fills your lungs.

For hours after our visit, my stomach lurched and my head throbbed. We were there for only one hour, but those who live in Mr Yan’s village of Dalahai, and other villages around, breathe in the same poison every day.

The price of 10% economic growth, quarter on quarter, year on year, for a decade has been widely documented in terms of human and environmental health. You can poison the land, river or an entire lake, but if you pour white paint into milk you meet the firing squad.

Valley fever (2, Insightful)

mendax (114116) | about a year ago | (#44310323)

As if the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation doesn't have enough problems on its hands being forced to downsize the population of its myriad gulags, they have two prisons near Ground Zero of this disease and several more in the general vicinity. It would not be surprising if they are forced by a court eventually to close these prisons because of valley fever. I, for one, would be pleased to see a reversal in the trend in the United States to imprison instead of rehabilitate those who are eminently rehabilitatable.

Re:Valley fever (4, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44310359)

I, for one, would be pleased to see a reversal in the trend in the United States to imprison instead of rehabilitate those who are eminently rehabilitatable.

Not going to happen, so long as we have people making money from an industrial prison complex.

Potheads and repeat offenders are their bread-and-butter.

Re:Valley fever (4, Insightful)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44310491)

The real problem is not prison population. The real problem is that urban areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco ship their prisoners to the Central Valley (more recently Arizona, Mississippi, and Oklahoma) because they do not want to pay for a prison in their own urban centers. Lower land costs, lower utility costs, and lower cost of living/labor makes the Central Valley a better place to house prisoners.

My father-in-law works at one of these Central Valley prisons, and I can tell you that his entire prison (3,000) does not fall within the category of rehabilitation. The entire prison is for people who were transferred from other prisons for murdering another prisoner or who were convicted of murder prior to being jailed. Not exactly the type of people that respond well to counseling and talk therapy. More like the kind of people that would stab you with a metal pen.

Re:Valley fever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310887)

The real problem is not prison population. The real problem is that urban areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco ship their prisoners to the Central Valley (more recently Arizona, Mississippi, and Oklahoma) because they do not want to pay for a prison in their own urban centers. Lower land costs, lower utility costs, and lower cost of living/labor makes the Central Valley a better place to house prisoners.

It works this way in SimCity, too!

Re:Valley fever (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44310551)

I, for one, would be pleased to see a reversal in the trend in the United States to imprison instead of rehabilitate those who are eminently rehabilitatable.

What is your plan for rehabilition? Serious question.

Re:Valley fever (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44310595)

I, for one, would be pleased to see a reversal in the trend in the United States to imprison instead of rehabilitate those who are eminently rehabilitatable.

What is your plan for rehabilition? Serious question.

Detox, a focus on education while in the system, and removal of post-release punishments (like not being able to vote) are a good place to start.

Re:Valley fever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310695)

Wow, I never knew disenfranchisement was actually a thing in modern countries.

Re:Valley fever (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#44310969)

Add mental health care and therapy to that. Fix the economic incentives and personal problems that can lead back to crime and you could very well create responsible citizens.

Re:Valley fever (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44310879)

It would not be surprising if they are forced by a court eventually to close these prisons because of valley fever.

It would not be surprising, because it's already happened [kqed.org] .

Fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310325)

We wouldn't want a whole bunch of people's property value to go down for doing something like that would we!

Moderators asleep at the job (4, Informative)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44310333)

From the summary:

It never leaves the body and symptoms can be triggered again.

From the linked article [wikipedia.org]

The infection ordinarily resolves leaving the patient with a specific immunity to re-infection.

Both cannot be true.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310395)

It's very clear that the article is doomsday scaremongering, but a specific immunity to re-infection does not negate the possibility of getting infected with one of the related spores. As for symptoms being triggered later in life, that can be true of any pathogen that does damage which is not trivially repairable. Tuberculosis is another such damaging pathogen, it also causes permanent damage to lung structures which reduce the efficiency of oxygen transfer for life (and has a worse survival rate for equal levels of treatment).

So, half truths phrased to inspire fear.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310401)

As an infected person, I can tell you the wikipedia article is incorrect. For more information visit valleyfeversurvivor.org.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44310535)

I really dig that scrolling menu bar at the top of your website.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (2)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#44310703)

Thanks, I've always wondered what it would be like to time travel back to the late 90's.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (5, Interesting)

asdfman2000 (701851) | about a year ago | (#44310765)

As another "infected person", valleyfeversurvivor.org Is filled with misinformation and fear-mongering. The community is filled with hypochondriacs blaming everything from smelly farts to tooth loss on the disease.

Valley fever is no more dangerous than the flu. Most people who get it recover on their own with no complications and sometimes without even realizing they had it. Rare cases result in long term problems or death, but again, those are extremely rare.

Talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (1)

mendax (114116) | about a year ago | (#44310403)

From the summary:

It never leaves the body and symptoms can be triggered again.

From the linked article [wikipedia.org]

The infection ordinarily resolves leaving the patient with a specific immunity to re-infection.

Both cannot be true.

Yes they can. The body can obtain an immunity to it but not completely leave. Think HIV or the various herpes viruses.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (-1, Flamebait)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44310511)

Valley fever is not a virus. It is a fungal infection. Your examples are viruses, and fungal infections do not follow those same rules.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310543)

You can get infected by HIV from another person even if you already have it.

Herpes there's many strain, you can get it twice and while you might have been asymptomatic with the first one you could get something recurring the second time around.

Fun times :)

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310433)

You're seriously going to try to talk logic and Slashdot editors at the same time? Really?

You're lucky the linked article has anything to do with the summary, or that the link to the article even works. The place is a toilet. A finely polished, white porcelain toilet that doesn't have quite as many piss-stains on the seat as a 4chan or reddit, but at the end of the day it's still a big bowl of shit.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (3, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#44310463)

Both cannot be true.

The Shingles [wikipedia.org] says they can.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (0)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44310553)

Shingles is a virus, Valley Fever is a fungus that gets inhaled. They are not the same.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (5, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | about a year ago | (#44310777)

Shingles is a virus, Valley Fever is a fungus that gets inhaled. They are not the same.

So what? Both are obviously true despite your claim that they can't be. Virus vs. fungus has no bearing on it.

0) You can be infected with something.
1) You can fight it off and become immune to it.
2) You can later be reinfected by the remnants that still remain in your body - because the infectious agent has changed, because your immune system has failed/been overwhelmed, because your specific immunity has gone away, or because the mechanism of infection (or location in your body) is different (even if the infectious agent is unchanged).

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (5, Informative)

asdfman2000 (701851) | about a year ago | (#44310603)

There are multiple forms of infection. I recently got taken out by this for about a week and had to go on intense anti-fungal meds. Most people just get a minor rash and flu-like symptoms and it goes away on its own. Few even realize they had it.

There is a form that basically remains dormant in your system for the rest of your life, however it's rare and mostly only affects immunocompromised people.

Some people treat Valley Fever like some doomsday infection, and some sites like valleyfeversurvivor.org have communities of people acting like it's the source of all their health problems regardless of whether or not it's actually true.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44310655)

Exactly. Not all coccidioidomycosis is created equally. But "rare and immune-compromised" doesn't make for flashy headlines.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310731)

While I have not had the pleasure to meet coccidioidomycosis, I did acquire an acute case of aspergillosis. There is simply no cure. Daily doses of multiple anti-fungals only slows the continued decline in health. Pulmonary CT scans show extensive damage, pulmonary function tests at 29% and declining. For those who have truly dealt with an internal fungal infection I can understand crying doomsday. Me, I'm generally too busy just trying to make it through the day to be with my kids when they are not in school.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310605)

They can certainly be true.

The infection is growing fungus in your lungs. The symptoms are caused by the fungus physically being there.

Specific Immunity means immunity to only that specific strain, and not any mutations of it, which happen regularly, and in parallel. It's even possible to be immediately re-infected with a different strain if exposed to the same conditions.

It also doesn't remove the crap that has built up in your lungs - which at a later date can cause irritation, and a resurgence of symptoms without requiring re-infection. Fungus can be a major problem - when it grows, it sends roots all through the infected tissue, and those roots, even if they're killed, are still there. You can't scrape them off, since they're embedded in the tissue itself.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about a year ago | (#44310769)

From the summary:

It never leaves the body and symptoms can be triggered again.

From the linked article [wikipedia.org]

The infection ordinarily resolves leaving the patient with a specific immunity to re-infection.

Both cannot be true.

isn't this the case with chicken pox? I had it as a kid. I'm now immune. As i understand it, the virus is still lurking within me and can make a comeback at some point, if i am severely weakened, as shingles.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310853)

The fungal spores enter the body and cause an infection which triggers symptoms. Normally the infection subsides and causes the patient to be immune to reinfection, but the spores are forever present inside your body. Sometimes patients do not become immune to reinfection and, since the spores never leave the body, get reinfected without any new outside spores being necessary.

In both cases the spores are forever present inside the patients body, the only difference is whether they became immune to symptoms (the normal case) or the infection becomes chronic and deadly.

Re:Moderators asleep at the job (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44311049)

yes, they can be and are both true.

SOME infected people never develop symptoms at all. Others develop severe flu-like symptoms and then clear the infection. less fortunate individuals develop a chronic infection which may never be cleared. Still less fortunate people develop the chronic disseminated form of the disease.

Perhaps you should try reading more than the introduction to the linked article. All of this is in there.

I expected China, but here in the US? (0, Flamebait)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#44310341)

Surprising. It's a "new low" in the US as far as I'm concerned. If an area is not safe for human habitation, it needs to be closed off.

"Why don't they tell people?!" What?! And have property values in the area plummet costing the banks loads of money?! NEVER. We don't often like to mention it, but it's a fact and we say it every day in rather indirect ways, but human lives and human suffering are not as important as money. It's a fact. You can claim otherwise all day long, but at the end of the day, when it comes down do it, a human life is less important than money -- even SMALL AMOUNTS of money to those who stand to lose it.

Re:I expected China, but here in the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310385)

This is most likely due to supply and demand. IN that respect and with 7 billion people on the planet human life is cheaper than it's ever been. Out of seven billion a few thousand is peanuts. You could wipe them out and still never be able to meet everyone else in your entire lifetime even if that's all YOU DID!!

Re:I expected China, but here in the US? (2)

jcdenhartog (840940) | about a year ago | (#44310453)

Then you would have to close off the southwest United States. While the San Joaquin Valley has the most cases, I live in much farther south in CA and know two people who had valley fever serious enough to end up in the hospital. So it is not uncommon elsewhere in the southwest as well.

Re:I expected China, but here in the US? (5, Informative)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year ago | (#44310469)

Most of the medical professionals and vetrinarians in my area of southwest Utah know about it.

It's no secret.

People gotta live somewhere. Fires, floods, earthquakes, malaria, congressmen, natural radiation, natural heavy metals in ground water... every place has some problem.

It isn't like we are talking about bubonic plague running rampant. What should the government do? Spray bleach over everything? Kick people off their own property?

Re:I expected China, but here in the US? (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | about a year ago | (#44311037)

Most of the medical professionals and vetrinarians in my area of southwest Utah know about it.

It's no secret.

People gotta live somewhere. Fires, floods, earthquakes, malaria, congressmen, natural radiation, natural heavy metals in ground water... every place has some problem.

It isn't like we are talking about bubonic plague running rampant. What should the government do? Spray bleach over everything? Kick people off their own property?

Funny you mention that: the bubonic plague is endemic throughout the American southwest [cdc.gov] and there are reported cases in people every year. Prairie dogs, among other rodents, carry it. (Most common cause of infection is outdoor cats getting plague-infected fleas that have left dead prairie dogs, then bringing the disease home to their owners.)

And as for the where-should-we-live, I made a map of natural disasters in the US a while ago when people were on about how anyone would be dumb enough to live in Norman, Oklahoma. Between hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tidal waves, forest fires, flash floods, bubonic plague, volcanoes, and a couple of other things, the only place I've found that looks fairly safe in the entire US is somewhat east of Pocatello, Idaho.

Re:I expected China, but here in the US? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310627)

If an area is not safe for human habitation, it needs to be closed off.

Agreed, let's quarantine Detroit.

Re:I expected China, but here in the US? (2)

Tailhook (98486) | about a year ago | (#44310815)

On a windy day you can pick up a hantavirus infection as well if you're near any varmint feces in a Western state. HPS fatality rate is 50%. Doctors know about it and they're not telling anybody. We need to close off New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, California, Washington, Texas, Utah and Montana.

Or not. Life is risky and temporary. Your wish to invoke power to assuage a brand new fear or outrage you were given sometime during the last 10 minutes is a result of training. You're behaving exactly as intended.

Re:I expected China, but here in the US? (4, Insightful)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about a year ago | (#44310893)

>Surprising. It's a "new low" in the US as far as I'm concerned. If an area is not safe for human habitation, it needs to be closed off. "Why don't they tell people?!"

It's no big secret. People who live there know about it. God alone knows why they live there. If you go to Avenal and look around, you can see 20+ really good reasons not to live there before you even think about Valley Fever.

Not news to smart would-be home buyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310349)

As somebody who has considered the Valley for a relief from sky-high Bay Area housing costs, this is not news. When you're considering such a commitment you research everything if you're smart. Valley air quality ranks 1.8 to 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. The best air quality is north of the Golden Gate. Sonoma is excellent, although not really commutable to Silicon Valley. It comes close to 10. If you can stay out of the central valley, the southern reaches of the Santa Clara valley are not bad. Anything closer to the coast tends to have better AQI. Buyer beware of course. I've seen places in zones of excellent AQI, but there's heavy local pollution because everybody in the neighborhood is burning their wood stoves even when they shouldn't, or it's next to a gas station.

I ran across the subject of Valley Fever in the course of all that research too. Lots of interesting things come out along those lines. For example, when the Russian River floods, that's not the end of your problems. Allegedly the flood waters left behind silt deposits which bred microbes, which got blown around as dust when it dried out too. I don't recall what it was though; something other than Valley Fever most likely...

Nice scare article. Too bad it's bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310353)

A quick Google search reveals that it's very unlikely you'll actually get it unless you're immunodepressed.

Re:Nice scare article. Too bad it's bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310419)

Everyone else just loses a few days of work to hack up blood while their immune system goes to town on it.

Come visit lovely San Joaquin Valley! A great place to live, work and play!

Incurable illness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310355)

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Why don't they tell people? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44310361)

Because of the San Joaquin Valley Chamber of Commerce?

Beware of property owners' rights trumping everything else.

I wonder (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44310375)

If Doc Holiday had this instead of his diagnosed tuberculosis.

Doubtful (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44310437)

[I wonder] If Doc Holiday had this instead of his diagnosed tuberculosis.

Doubtful since he was living in Atlanta when he contracted TB and moved out West in the hopes it would improve his symptoms.

Templar, AZ? (1)

Sowelu (713889) | about a year ago | (#44310409)

First thing I thought of, really.

The Last of Us (1)

BillCable (1464383) | about a year ago | (#44310429)

And you guys thought those Clickers were fiction...

This thing is very common. (5, Informative)

Entropius (188861) | about a year ago | (#44310435)

I lived for a while in Tucson. Pretty much anyone who's outdoors in the desert much is likely to get it; in most people there are either no symptoms or flu-like symptoms. My PhD advisor had to have major surgery, and in the pre-surgery physical they found some characteristic scar tissue in his lungs and commented that he'd had valley fever at some point; he had no idea.

I'm pretty sure I had it; I got an unexplained very high fever and "flu-like" muscle pains along with a cough, but no sinus congestion at the end of my first year there.

Re:This thing is very common. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310587)

I live in tucson and have those symptoms right now. Can you please tell me more?
What can I do to get rid of this?? (if that is what i have)

Re:This thing is very common. (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about a year ago | (#44310735)

There are tests for it, and presumably a common antifungal drug could treat it.

Don't panic, though. It's not really that dangerous in very many people.

Re:This thing is very common. (0)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about a year ago | (#44310697)

Yep, I lived in Tucson myself for about 2 years. I'm pretty sure I had it at some point as the doctors at the hospital I worked at said that pretty much everybody is exposed to it at some point within their first six months in the area. I had a couple flu-like illnesses that could've qualified as valley fever.

Nobody really warns about it because its so common and most people have no symptoms or mild symptoms that resolve themselves.

Re:This thing is very common. (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#44310855)

one of those things where msot folks get it, and get over it, and thats the end of the story, with only a minor population developing an adverse or chronic condition. the article is essentially FUD

Re:This thing is very common. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311039)

People in Phoenix know about valley fever. Most think that it is named after Phoenix' nickname: Valley of the Sun.

Don't worry, it's organic (5, Funny)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44310473)

Organic and natural things are good for you, right?

Re:Don't worry, it's organic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310673)

Did somebody not hug you enough as a child?

Re:Don't worry, it's organic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310689)

Organic and natural things are good for you, right?

When organic means food produced in accordance with USDA organic guidelines, yes. Absolutely.

Re:Don't worry, it's organic (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44310913)

When organic means food produced in accordance with USDA organic guidelines, yes. Absolutely.

I guarantee that you are creative enough to come up with some products produced in accordance with the USDA organic guidelines that aren't good for you.

Re:Don't worry, it's organic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310823)

yeah like AIDS, the Black Plague, volcanoes, and floods.

Re:Don't worry, it's organic (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#44310975)

The deadliest poisons are organic products.

Botulitim
Ricin
Dart Frog Venom
Beaked Sea Snake Venom
Strychnine
Amatoxin
Fiddleback Spider Venom

Our dog got valley fever and died last year in AZ (3, Interesting)

idioto (259918) | about a year ago | (#44310513)

Your pets can get this too, especially if they eat dirt. It's something to be aware of, since the vets took a couple of months figuring it out. It's the sort of thing if you want an expedited diagnosis you probably have to bring up yourself, so it's good to see it getting a little publicity so maybe doctors will become more aware in other parts of the country/world.

Not mystifying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310521)

Having lived in Avenal as a child, I contracted valley fever. Let me say it's an extremely miserable illness and I couldn't even get out of bed for weeks.

But there's nothing mystifying about the spread of it. It's found in dry soil that's kicked up when the wind blows. Congress has cut off a large amount of water in this state, so now the whole damn place is a giant dried out tinderbox waiting to go up in flames.

Drive up I-5 and CA-99, you'll see the signs everywhere: "Congress Created Dust Bowl" or "Man-made Drought." Look at satellite imagery of CA, the Central Valley used to be nearly solid green. Now it's mostly brown, dead, dried out.

Thanks, EPA.

What's 'mystifying' about it? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44310549)

The place is a goddamn dust bowl. I'm surprised a lot more people aren't sick from all the crap (fertilizer, insecticides, etc.) the farmers spill on the ground

Sounds familiar (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#44310563)

I lived in Phoenix, Arizona in the early 80s and seem to recall this being a problem there - only they called it Desert Fever. Phoenix was in the midst of a huge building boom and the "fever" was caused from all the building taking place...dust getting kicked up quite a bit.

Re:Sounds familiar (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310717)

Desert fever was/is just another name for Valley Fever. I had it too and lived in Phoenix in the late 70's early 80's. It always freaked out my Doctors when they would see my lung x-rays. Loved having to explain that no I wasn't a smoker that was from valley fever and then having to teach them what coccidioidomycosis was to a MD.

"They" do tell people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310623)

Assuming you mean media / the press / people who live in the area and don't expect the actual Chamber of Commerce to do anything [in general, end of sentence] that would hurt commerce:

A trip through Google News archives -
2009: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=valley-fever-hotter-wind
Even as far back in the media as 2001: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1709617.stm

I lived in Phoenix for four years, it's a pretty well-known issue. I'm not saying it's okay, that awareness shouldn't be raised, or that current efforts are nearly sufficient. But you can find a string of these articles, usually in the summer, when the issue pops up, people get outraged, then everything cools down (as much as is possible in the Southwest).

Why don't they tell?????? (4, Insightful)

jayteedee (211241) | about a year ago | (#44310663)

Why don't they tell people that the southwest is full of sharp plants???
Why don't they tell people that the southwest if HOT???
Why don't they tell people that "it's a dry heat"???
Because most southwesterners already KNOW, that's why. Few people have problems from valley fever(1 in 1000, or 1 in 5000 depending on source). And all the medical people will test for it first when a patient comes in experiencing a bad "fever". Even the people that have it (or have noticeable symptoms) usually can overcome it themselves without any medical treatment.

Re:Why don't they tell?????? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#44311019)

Agreed. Every region has its quirks, and what's considered common in one place can be utterly foreign in another. In the US alone, we have a number of regional ailments or conditions, ranging from serious stuff like Lyme disease and West Nile virus to relatively benign stuff like hay fever or fire ants (which are apparently being displaced by crazy ants). Obviously there are concerns that are even more localized than those, but a capable doctor should be aware of most and should be asking if you've visited any places recently if they run into something they don't recognize.

'Why don't they tell people?'" (1)

Tempest_2084 (605915) | about a year ago | (#44310727)

Umm... They do. Valley Fever isn't some new mystery illness that's popped up in the last few years, it's been around for a long time and pretty much everyone who lives in areas where it's common knows about it (or at least I they should). Maybe this is news in the UK, but it's old hat here.

Because you should have known (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310837)

That's the usual excuse from people when they don't tell you something. It's like real estate.

Old saw still applies (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44310897)

In undeveloped countries, don't drink the water. In developed countries, don't breathe the air.

Today I learned... (1)

superid (46543) | about a year ago | (#44310959)

We had a prisoner of war camp in Arizona during WWII.

Common in Arizona (1)

bjdevil66 (583941) | about a year ago | (#44310993)

When I read the headline I thought it was something new and sinister to worry about, but valley fever? This is nothing new - at least here in Arizona. As a kid growing up here in the 70s and 80s there was a public service announcement on TV about it played pretty often (Channel 5 maybe?). (Imagine a scene in a small farming town, near a cotton or alfalfa field, on a hot, dry summer day. A tractor is discing a field in the background, kicking up a wall of dust behind it, in the warped light of the baking summer sun. Cue a narrator's voice - "dusty... Dusty... Dusty... DUSTY...")

This is only based on my Arizona experience and as a "study of one", but FWIW:

1) People who grow up in AZ from the start don't seem to have as much trouble with it as those who move here at some point. I have heard a couple of stories of people having to move away from Arizona solely because of it, but that is pretty rare to hear about.

2) Unlike diseases where you get a specific set of symptoms, different people respond to valley fever differently. My entire family (4th or 5th generation Arizonans) grew up on a small farm in rural AZ, and none of us ever experienced a case of diagnosed valley fever in my entire life. I probably had it at least once and just got over it like some small bout of the flu when I was younger. OTOH, my borderline asthmatic wife that grew up in multiple states (coastal CA, CO, and AZ) got it as an adult and she was miserable. It took a few weeks of suffering (including some coughing rough enough to bruise ribs) to overcome it, and she wasn't the same for a while afterwards. (According to her doctor/specialist at the time, testing for the disease is quite unreliable, coming back false quite often when in reality you do have it.)

Road trip to Vegas! (1)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#44310999)

Who's up for that???

Good grief - The BBC as Sensatonalist as Fox News! (1)

Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) | about a year ago | (#44311005)

Coccidiomycosis is all over the southwest, it's not incurable, and it's no flipping mystery why the incidence is increasing ... A couple of wet winters, some dry dusty summers and an influx of new residents with the attendant construction kicking up the dirt where the spores are ... and probably an easier diagnostic test. Instant epidemic. We had a surge of cases every fall in Phoenix if the dust storms had been severe.

2/3 of the people who have antibodies against it thought they had a slight cold or had no symptoms. A large chunk of the remaining 1/3 have a mild cough and mild to moderate fatigue ... I had it and it was fatigue of the "stop and rest three times going up one flight of stairs" kind. A serious damper on my college life for a couple of months.

It's been known for decades (since before I took Mycology in the late 60s) that certain groups were more prone to have severe cases: African Americans, Asians (especially Filipinos), Women in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy, People with weak immune systems, including those with an organ transplant or who have HIV/AIDS

Moving a group of people out of an area where they are extremely likely to get a disease that will make them sicker makes economic sense ... fewer cases of the illness means fewer resources needed to take care of them. But I'd screen them for antibodies first, because only the non-immunes need to be moved. I'd bet that over half to prisoners they plan to move are already immune.

==========
A vaccine was under development during WWII, but the project stopped when the war ended. There have been noises about reviviing the project, but no funding.

I am from Coalinga (1)

armitage787 (1405871) | about a year ago | (#44311017)

I am from Coalinga, about 20 miles away from Avenal. I saw the article from the BBC yesterday and thought it was being blow way out of proportion. I know a few people that have gotten Valley Fever, and even one that died from it (he was about 85 years old), but I still think they were being dramatic with how they depicted it. I do think the cases for valley fever are going to pick up if valley doesn't get more water soon, but that is a very long and different conversation.

Got this when I moved to AZ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311055)

as did my parents and brother. Non-event for all of us except for my dad. He had to have the upper lobe of his right lung removed to stop the infection. I guess he was fortunate in that it didn't do worse damage. Nasty disease.

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