A new bill in congress is aimed at preventing the fungal disease valley fever that’s endemic to Central and Southern California.
The so-called FORWARD Act, introduced by Bakersfield Congressman and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, would establish a national valley fever working group and would award grants to entities researching the disease.
With 28 pages of research and proposals, the bill is one of the most detailed of any valley fever legislation introduced to date. Rob Purdie, vice president of the non-profit Valley Fever Americas Foundation, says that’s because McCarthy has been consulting with his group and many others for quite some time. "Conversations for this bill that just came out have been ongoing for probably six months looking for the right way to do it," he says.
Purdie says he’s particularly excited about a provision that would prioritize the development of valley fever drugs and vaccines. "There’s a couple of drugs that are in development," he says, "so getting them to move forward and incentivizing the development of those drugs is a huge step and it’s going to greatly benefit those of us who are fighting this disease."
McCarthy’s bill follows another introduced recently by Senator Kamala Harris. Last month, Governor Jerry Brown allocated $8 million from the state budget to disease prevention and outreach. According to provisional data, 2018 could be another record year for valley fever cases.