Jeff Garberson’s excellent article “Valley Fever: A Silent, Unpredictable Menace” in The Independent featured an interview with Sharon Filip and David Filip from Valley Fever Survivor. Unlike other articles that often whitewash the importance of the disease, Garberson’s work serves as an excellent introduction to the problem of Valley Fever.
In addition, The Independent allowed further commentary on the topic. This included information from Valley Fever Survivor’s lead researcher David Filip. He shared additional information about the physical and financial costs of Valley Fever:
Valley Fever can be a chronic disease, wax and wane, or go dormant and reactivate later. The fatigue can be chronic and debilitating. Lest anyone doubt its seriousness, Valley Fever was regulated along with Ebola and anthrax in two antiterrorism laws for 16 years. This pathogen is considered the most virulent fungal parasite known to man. Once inhaled, a person will have it for life and it takes only one spore to cause a lethal infection.
Also, since only 2% of infections are ever estimated to be diagnosed, 98% are either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. This makes the case reporting statistics give a distorted view of the problem while ignoring the fact that undiagnosed cases have been proven to activate later – sometimes decades after the initial infection.
Economically, all of us have been paying for Valley Fever for decades through federal services like Medicare. The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2013 evaluated costs in California. Since that state represents 30% of America’s cases and costs have risen, over one billion dollars in annual nationwide Valley Fever medical costs could be projected going forward. Incidentally, completion of the poorly funded vaccine and cure projects would only cost a tiny fraction of this.
The Independent published Filip’s full statement at http://www.independentnews.com/mailbox/valley-fever/article_68f9da30-dbc5-11e5-81e6-b7dd4c40c64f.html
Livermore resident Gil Stratton also offered strong opinions in his commentary titled “Political Cowardice”:
Your article on valley fever revived a long held theory that off road recreational vehicles using places known to be hotspots for valley fever spores may be the cause for the very high incidence of this disease.
The Tesla/Carnegie area was identified during the 1940’s as a significant source of coccidioidomycosis spores, but the number of victims was very small. This was mentioned during the hearings that preceded the purchase and establishment of the off road vehicle park for recreational use during the 1980’s. The number of cases of valley fever seems to have begun a sharp rise and the geographic distribution also became much larger. It is now approaching epidemic numbers.
Mr. Stratton’s commentary “Political Cowardice” can be read in full at The Independent at http://www.independentnews.com/mailbox/political-cowardice/article_a4cfb8ea-dbc5-11e5-b7a5-0b8e78b79c64.html