Our NAACP Letter
On March 23, 2003 we sent the following letter to President and CEO Kweisi Mfume of the NAACP. We felt that an organization focused on race-related matters would certainly want its members to be aware of cocci since it is a race-specific weapon of biological warfare that can be inhaled in the air of several American cities.
Dear Mr. Mfume,
I am the co-author of an upcoming book about coccidioidomycosis, an incurable disease commonly known as Valley Fever. Caused by the inhalation of C. immitis fungal spores and considered a naturally occurring biohazard, Valley Fever infects nearly 200,000 Americans each year in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. Since everyone has to breathe, it is contracted easily. The Valley Fever Center for Excellence in Arizona has informed us of cases where it was contracted simply by breathing air while changing planes in the Phoenix airport, by receiving a potted plant by mail that had C. immitis in the soil, and more. Valley Fever’s varied symptoms lead to frequent misdiagnoses. Its worst cases can prove fatal. Due to the race-specific nature of this disease, I have written this letter to ask for the NAACP’s help to publicize its dangers.
While C. immitis can cause a host of problems in anyone’s lungs, the fungus can cause greater damage by spreading to other parts of the body by a process called dissemination. When disseminated, coccidioidomycosis can destroy bone marrow, infect nearly every organ of the body, and kill with pneumonia and meningitis. It is estimated that three percent of the population in endemic areas of the Southwest (roughly 200,000 people) will be infected annually. 60% of infections may initially be asymptomatic.
Although all races are infected simply by breathing the fungus into their lungs, non-whites will frequently suffer the worst cases. The odds of a disseminated infection in African-Americans have been reported as up to 28 times higher than in Caucasians (Louie, et al. “Influence of Host Genetics on the Severity of Coccidioidomycosis.” EID 1999 5:5). When analyzed specifically for Filipinos, the rate of dissemination is as much as 175 times higher than in Caucasians. Additionally, as a result of their Valley Fever infections, “Filipinos and African-Americans are at higher risk for meningitis, 10 and 5 times greater risk respectively than Caucasians.” (11/28/2002 Kern County bulletin). Filipinos have been considered as much as 192 times more likely to die of this disease and African-Americans as much as 23.4 times more likely to die than Caucasians (W.M. Johnson in: Ajello L, ed. Coccidioidomycosis, Miami: Symposia Specialists; 1977.)
These ethnic groups are presently minorities in the endemic areas, but today’s massive migration and tourism to the Southwest may lead to an explosion of race-specific illnesses and fatalities. Other groups more likely to suffer severe illnesses are the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics, organ transplant recipients, immunosuppressed persons (such as cancer patients, AIDS patients, and people on certain medications and treatments), and even pets, but healthy people of all races and ages have been seriously affected by this disease or have died from it.
It is interesting to note that C. immitis is regulated by the federal government in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. From the books Germs (Miller, et al. 2001) and Gene Wars (Piller and Yamamoto, 1988), one can see how C. immitis was considered for military use as a race-specific pathogen, a biological weapon to attack enemy armies of specific racial compositions. Lab workers who study this fungus are required to work under BSL-3 safety precautions, measures that are only one step below those used for the deadly ebola virus. Paradoxically, Americans are given no warning. We are freely allowed to visit and live in the areas where we can inhale this pathogen.
Please visit our web site at http://www.valleyfeversurvivor.com and view the Facts page so you can quickly be brought up-to-date on the dangers. Since so little information about this disease has been given to the general public, I will share all this information and more in my upcoming book. I intend to lobby the endemic states and the federal government to make sure everyone, especially those who are most susceptible to a disseminated infection, will be aware of this disease. People deserve the right to decide for themselves whether they are willing to risk their health to go into an endemic region for a vacation, education, employment, or any other reason.
I hope we can count on your support and begin a working relationship. This is urgently important information. Those who face the greatest risks need to know the truth.
If you want the NAACP to know that you also want them to act against this disease, please send a letter to the NAACP's President and CEO Kweisi Mfume at this address:
Mr. Kweisi Mfume
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