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The press coverage by the Reporting on Health Collaborative exposed just how little attention the airborne fungal infection has received from officials at all levels of government. This has to end.

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Ask someone about an infectious disease that scares them. Chances are good they will not mention valley fever. But doctors compare it to cancer because of the way it feeds on tissue and keeps coming back.

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Valley fever starts with the simple act of breathing. In about 100 cases every year nationally the fever kills. That’s more deaths than those caused by hantavirus, whooping cough, and salmonella poisoning combined, yet all of these conditions receive far more attention from public health officials.

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What are the symptoms? Fever, a persistent cough that won’t go away, night sweats, weight loss, and different kinds of rashes. Once a person is infected with the fungus, it does not leave the body.

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Valley fever feeds on heat. And as the average temperature ticks up with each passing decade, experts are concerned that the fungus’ footprint and impact are expanding, as evidenced by a rise in cases in areas far outside the hot spots of the Central Valley of California.

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What's going to happen to the health workforce as health reform rolls out, particularly in rural areas?

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Why are nitrates from agriculture such a big problem for groundwater in California's fertile Central Valley?

Picture of Angilee Shah

My first panel at SXSW wasn't a whiz-bang-gadget conversation, but one that spurred great thinking on communities that don't necessarily have access to high-speed broadband Internet.

Picture of Rebecca Plevin

Does rural healthcare have a future? And how can we ensure that rural California residents have access to decent healthcare, as doctors are becoming scarce?

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

Rising insurance costs for smokers, falling birth rates for teens, and hard times ahead for rural hospitals, plus more from our Daily Briefing.

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