Valley fever cases increase for 4th straight year in Kern County

The Kern County Public Health Services Department on Monday, April 9, 2018, displays signs showing valley fever activity in Kern County, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Valley fever cases are on the rise in Kern County.

The Kern County Public Health Services Department on Monday released preliminary 2017 figures: 2,929 confirmed cases, including nine deaths.

The county agency said valley fever cases have increased locally for four straight years.

Valley fever can affect both people and animals and is caused by a fungus in the soil. Infections are caused by breathing in spores from the fungus.

Most people don't develop symptoms, similar to the cold or flu: fever, cough, chest pain, muscle or joint aches, tiredness, headaches, weight loss and rash.

Most people fully recover, but severe cases might warrant medication for several months.

“In Kern County, anyone who develops symptoms such as cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, lasting two weeks or more, should ask their health care provider about Valley Fever,” Public Health Director Matt Constantine said in a news release. “Valley Fever is endemic to Kern County so we all need to be aware of the symptoms and ways to reduce our exposure.”

The county health officials advise people to avoid the outdoors when it's dusty. They also say people should wet the soil when working or playing outside, to reduce kicking up dust. People can also wear an N95 mask or respirator.

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