Friday, April 5, 2013

McCarthy: developing a vaccine for Valley Fever is one of my top priorities

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield and House Majority Whip, addresses Valley Fever in this week's report from Capitol Hill.

 "Our community remains a leader in the effort to fight Valley Fever, as we have seen over the years from the tremendous work of those like Dr. Tom and Pauline Larwood, Sandra Larson, the late Dr. Hans Einstein and others.  As residents of the Central Valley, many of us personally know friends or family members who have been affected by this disease. It is important to educate members of our communities about how to reduce the risk of contracting Valley Fever and how to get tested for it when symptoms arise. But there is much more work to be done and there is tremendous momentum building with the help of the Bakersfield Californian and the tireless work of volunteers and rotary clubs across our community.

 "As a long-time supporter increasing awareness to Valley Fever and working toward the development of better treatments and ultimately a vaccine, I recently arranged a meeting in Washington, DC with Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I shared with him the countless stories of those that have contracted Valley Fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis from around our community, and I appreciated his commitment to work with experts in our community in Bakersfield to develop strategies to not only combat this disease, but also increase public awareness about Valley Fever.

 "In the coming weeks, I will travel to Atlanta to CDC’s headquarters where I will continue to discuss with Dr. Frieden and his scientists ways to work towards developing a vaccine and elevating the importance of awareness about Valley Fever at the Federal level. Leadership on this issue is all the more timely with the release of a CDC report a few weeks after our meeting in Washington that indicates the incidence of Valley Fever has been on the rise over the past decade in the American southwest, where the fungus that causes coccidioidomycosis is endemic.  This should be a call to action, and I intend to continue to work with Dr. Frieden and my colleagues in Congress to make sure Valley Fever research and prevention is a priority.

Right here in our own community we have experts that have been working for years on raising awareness and fighting for a vaccine, including the Valley Fever Americas Foundation and the Valley Fever Vaccine Project of the Americas.  To learn more about these organizations, you can visit their websites at: and, respectively.  In addition, the Kern County Public Health Laboratory is recognized as a premier facility in testing and diagnosing Valley Fever.  These organizations are valuable resources in our effort to better understand this disease, improve diagnoses, and ultimately develop a vaccine. Having lived all my life in Bakersfield, I have seen first-hand the impact Valley Fever can have on our friends and families.  I will keep readers updated on my upcoming meetings with Dr. Frieden and others at CDC and on our continued joint efforts towards reducing Valley Fever in our region and elsewhere.

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