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Kern Medical is valley fever clinical trial site

Kern Medical officials announce the initiation of a valley fever clinical trial site in Bakersfield, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Kern Medical announced Thursday the start of a valley fever clinical trial. This comes after a valley fever epidemic in the southwestern part of the US.

Kern Medical is working on this in partnership with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The trial is called Fluconazole as Early Empiric Treatment, or FLEET, and will be conducted by the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

The goal is to increase awareness of valley fever and improve a doctor’s ability to diagnose it in its earliest stage. Valley fever is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to pneumonia.

“The clinical trial is designed to change the way we all think about the disease and change the way medical practice addresses this disease by giving us data to help to guide better treatment,” Dr. Dennis Dixon, Chief of the Bacteriology and Mycology Branch at the NIH, said.

The study will run for 72 months and researchers are looking for 1,000 adults who have symptoms of pneumonia to participate.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy spoke at the event and said they need people in Kern County to go to the doctors if they have any current symptoms of the flu or pneumonia.

“For the trial to work we need people to participate,” McCarthy said. “I’m looking forward not that I want anybody to get valley fever, but I want you to know that we can identify it sooner and how we can treat it.”

Kern Medical is one of six trial sites in California and Arizona.

How the valley fever research will work at Kern Medical:

1. Patients will go to Kern Medical Emergency Department

2. Patient presents signs and symptoms consistent with pneumonia

3. Physician obtains consent from patient to participate in the valley fever research study

4. Patient is randomly assigned to the control or experimental group

5. 50 percent participants will receive placebo for 42 days

6. Other 50 percent of participants will receive fluconazole for 42 days

7. Patient will have regular follow-up appointments with Kern Medical providers

8. Patients will be reimbursed for travel costs associated with follow-up appointments

“What we need is to enroll people that come in with respiratory infection that meet out criteria, predominately in our emergency room, and if we do this successfully, I think we are going to have a successful study,” Dr. Royce Johnson, chief of infectious disease at Kern Medical, said.

If you have questions about participating in the study you can call the study coordinator at (661) 326-2939.

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