The 2006 Valley Fever Vaccine Petition
In 2006 Representative William Thomas introduced HR 5416, a
bill that would have secured federal funding for the Valley Fever
vaccine. Unfortunately, it was trapped in committee before it was put
to a vote. This is the letter we sent to Representative William Thomas
to show the Valley Fever community's support and to try to get HR 5416
to a vote. Valley Fever is not a local issue, as the disease is often
framed, but instead an epidemic of national importance that everyone in
congress should want to eradicate. We hope our information packet and
petition will enable Representative Thomas to change his colleague's
minds so they will support Valley Fever causes.
RE: Petitions to support HR 5416 supplied by Valley Fever Survivor LLC
Dear Representative Thomas:
In the one month that we asked the Valley Fever community to do this petition drive we received the 1633 signatories that are enclosed. If we had more time or just did an e-petition we could have had thousands and thousands of names to share. We received petitions from 23 states showing how Valley Fever affects people from coast to coast. Coccidioides sp. is a parasitic fungal biohazard regulated by two anti-terrorism laws and can reactivate at any time, regardless of where its victims live.
The current epidemic of Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) in the United States is the worst in the history of the disease. With so many new visitors coming to the area for vacations, retirement, universities, military service, and residence, it is imperative to stop Valley Fever in its tracks. It is estimated to infect 3% of the endemic population annually but some reports show it may infect percentages as high as 10% at times, and is easily contracted simply by breathing the air. Most states do not require reporting of this disease, and even in the states where doctors are required to report Valley Fever, it is believed to be vastly underreported.
The CDC lists the total number of reported Valley Fever cases through August 2006 as 5,625, as compared to 2,740 for 2005. This number for 2006 is inaccurate as it does not include the complete number of cases from Arizona for July and August of this year. The actual number so far for 2006 is, therefore, well over 6,000 case reports.
Since only two percent of Valley Fever infections are ever estimated to be diagnosed, 6,000 cases would represent only 2% of the 300,000 infections that are likely to have already occurred this year. Even to those who are not aware they had contracted Valley Fever, it is well documented that the disease can activate at any time in one's life to debilitate and kill them. No one who has this fungal parasite in their body is safe.
Many politicians and residents think of Valley Fever as a "local disease" and that only people from the Southwest contract it. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Even with the frequent misdiagnoses in endemic areas, visitors and people who had moved away are even less likely to receive an accurate diagnosis or treatment elsewhere. There are no studies to show how many people really die from this disease annually due to misdiagnosis.
As a visitor to Arizona in 2001 I became an unwitting victim of this disease and nearly lost my life to it. I am glad I have survived but my health has been compromised permanently due to contracting Valley Fever. I was extremely healthy with a great immune system prior to Valley Fever. Contrary to what is commonly believed, Valley Fever infects far more immunocompetent people than immunodeficient people.
In 2002, together with my son David, we created www.valleyfeversurvivor.com and became an advocacy organization to get the word out about this disease and to make sure that there is funding for the vaccine and a cure. We have heard from over 1400 people so far affected by Valley Fever. Unfortunately, some of them are now deceased due to Valley Fever. The site has been visited by 79 countries and territories besides the USA and heard from Valley Fever victims or their families in nearly all 50 states.
As you can gather from what has been stated, Valley Fever is not a local Southwestern problem but rather a national health crisis from coast to coast. Tourists are never informed much less warned about this "local disease." Can you imagine if the media and weather bureau did not warn travelers of an impending tornado or hurricane? With hundreds of thousands of military personnel stationed in the Southwest and the National Guard now on the border, Valley Fever is clearly a threat to military readiness and national security as well.
David has devoted the past five years of his life to researching thousands of medical documents and has read just about everything written on this subject. With this research we have connected the dots to show how truly catastrophic Valley Fever is. We have a Valley Fever handbook soon to come out as well as a major book release in the near future. I have no doubt that the risk of inhaling the world’s most virulent incurable fungal parasite will interest everyone in America and all visitors abroad.
Please share the petition, this letter, and our information packet with others in congress to underscore the importance of Valley Fever to the entire nation — particularly those who can help you bring HR 5416 to a vote. Every petitioner would like to help in any way possible to ensure that HR 5416 comes back from committee and is passed. If that cannot happen, we at Valley Fever Survivor LLC would like to help you further to make federal funding available to fight Valley Fever. Our web site has become the hub for the Valley Fever community, offering up-to-date and accurate information as well as a message board for VF victims. Perhaps David or I could be of service by speaking on Capital Hill to your committee or to any other committee. For morality's sake, we must ensure the facts about this disease become widely known.
I hope you or your staff will consider going to www.valleyfeversurvivor.com and reading the most up-to-date material available anywhere on this subject. Valley Fever is a far greater problem than most people suspect, often because they have been programmed by generalizations and misstatements that are not supported by medical studies. There is much more information about Valley Fever that will shock the nation in our upcoming book. If there is no federal funding before our book is released, perhaps our book can provide the publicity necessary to help make the people demand that their politicians help you to achieve this goal.
Although you are receiving this letter and some of the enclosures via fax, you will also receive the complete 1633 petitions and printed enclosures with this letter via postal mail.
I look forward to hearing back from you on HR 5416 and any other way that we can help you fight Valley Fever. Together we can make a difference. Adults, children and animals should not have to lose their health or their lives simply by breathing.
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