Even though COVID-19 has been the dominant public health threat for a year, first with a summer surge, then a winter surge, and now with the rollout of much-anticipated vaccines, other public health problems haven’t just disappeared.
One long-standing health concern in the San Joaquin Valley is valley fever, a fungal disease that sickens thousands each year here and throughout the desert southwest. Even though the disease is caused by inhaling the spores of a fungus and it’s not transmissible from person to person, valley fever bears many parallels to COVID-19, including its varied symptoms, which can confound doctors and are commonly misdiagnosed for other respiratory ailments.
Are patients who’ve suffered severe valley fever especially at risk of contracting COVID-19? And what happens to those who contract both? This week’s COVID-19 update examines how the pandemic has complicated the public health response to valley fever, featuring an interview with Science Friday science reporter and digital producer Lauren Young as well as excerpts of her conversations with doctors Arash Heidari and Rasha Kuran of the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical, UC Merced biology professor Katrina Hoyer, and valley fever patient Anna Antonowich.
Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot for Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare Counties (note that some numbers may have changed between the interview and publication):
As of March 11:
- 4,155 total deaths out of 318,144 total cases
- 339 people hospitalized and 84 in ICUs
- 145 deaths reported in the last week
- 402 average cases reported daily in last week
As of 1 week previous, March 4:
- 4,010 total deaths out of 315,327 total cases
- 443 people hospitalized and 89 in ICUs
- 212 deaths reported in the last week
- 496 average cases reported daily in last week
As of 4 weeks previous, Feb. 11:
- 3,217 total deaths out of 294,348 total cases
- 1,006 people hospitalized and 189 in ICUs
- 200 deaths reported in the last week
- 1,432 average cases reported daily in last week
You can always find up-to-date information for your county here.