Status on AB-1789 Valley Fever Bill
Assembly Bill (AB) 1789, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), would standardize and streamline the reporting process for Valley Fever, allowing for greater efficiency and accuracy in the confirmation and collection of Valley Fever cases across California. This bill would require the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to adopt occupational safety and health standards for all state public works projects to prevent and control Valley Fever. Valley Fever Americas Foundation is a primary supporter and thus far no opposition is on file for the bill.
Coccidioidomycosis also known as Valley Fever is a fungal, respiratory infection caused by breathing microscopic fungal spores found in the soil in dry and dusty areas throughout California and the Southwestern region of the United States. When soil is disturbed the fungal spore is released into the air and can be carried for hundreds of miles. The disease can result in expensive lifelong treatment. In the most severe cases it is fatal. No cure or vaccine for Valley Fever is available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates of 150,000 cases go unreported every year in the United States. Valley fever infected 5,372 people in California in 2016, the most in a single year since reporting began in 1995. Cases have not been officially tallied yet for 2017, but early lab data suggest the tally could rise even higher as the state experiences an epidemic. Employers and employees are encouraged to develop and enforce a strict exposure control plan to mitigate the risk of contracting this disease, particularly when working in the Central Valley and Kern County. A couple years ago there was a major Cal/OSHA investigation of Valley Fever cases during construction of a solar cell farm in San Luis Obispo, in which The Cohen Group was involved. Call us if you need assistance in developing a protocol for protecting your employees working with soil that may have the spores.