History of Valley Fever

One of the oldest and most studied fungal diseases

The medical name for Valley Fever is coccidioidomycosis – often called “cocci” for short.  Valley Fever is caused by a fungus which is a member of the plant family.  Molds and mushrooms are examples of other members of the fungus group of plants.  The first case reported in the World occurred in 1892 in an Argentinian soldier.  Two years later two researchers recognized a similar case in a Portuguese immigrant farm laborer working in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California.  In Kern County, the first case recognized and reported occurred in August, 1901.  Kern’s first case occurred in a 19-year-old man who worked as a canner and had been a resident for only 12 days.

Since the first case of Valley Fever was described in Kern County in 1901, the local health department, healthcare providers, and others have dedicated themselves to studying this disease. Kern County has been a leader and resource for treating and taking care of those infected with this disease. In addition, the County’s Public Health Laboratory is one of the top labs in the world for performing blood tests to diagnose Valley Fever. Finally, the County has played a critical role in many studies that has increased the knowledge and understanding of this disease for all areas that are impacted by this fungus.

A Kern County Public Health lab employee studies samples