The rate of Valley Fever cases in California continues to rise. The state Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports nearly 4,000 cases this year, as of June 30. That’s approximately 500 more compared to the first six months of 2018. And, it puts California on pace to near 8,000 cases for the entire year—a mark exceeded in each of the last two years.
Valley Fever is most prevalent in California’s Central Valley, but is also present in other parts of the state. It results from breathing in spores from the Coccidioides fungus that lives in the dirt in these areas. When soil is disturbed, the spores become airborne; increasing the chance workers can become infected. Outdoor workers, especially those in agriculture, are particularly at risk.
Some quick facts about Valley Fever
Valley Fever is tricky and not always diagnosed right away, as its symptoms mimic the flu and other common ailments. Some of those symptoms include:
- Chest pains
- Rash to the upper body or legs
- Muscle or joint aches
An important step toward protecting your employees is to share information about Valley Fever with them. This safety meeting topic can help you lead the discussion on steps they can take to minimize their risk.
According to CDPH, Valley Fever usually infects the lungs. Some people can develop respiratory trouble or pneumonia. In rare cases, the disease can spread to other parts of the body such as the brain.
Valley Fever may be on the rise in California, but awareness and the right prevention steps can help your employees stay safe when digging up the soil.
The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.