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Test inmates for immunity to deadly Valley fever, experts say

July 25, 2014

Federal experts are recommending that California test inmates for immunity to Valley fever before incarcerating them at two central San Joaquin Valley state prisons where the disease has killed nearly three dozen inmates, according to a report obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

A federal judge last fall ordered the state to move nearly 2,600 susceptible inmates out of Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons because of the deaths and illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the state go further by using hypersensitivity skin tests that could identify inmates who already were exposed to Valley fever, a soil-borne fungus. Those inmates could thus safely be housed at the two state prisons on the west side of the Valley because they largely are immune to repeat infections.

The experts said that is a better option than the current practice of screening out black and Filipino inmates and others who statistically are more susceptible to the fungus, which grows naturally in the soil in the San Joaquin Valley and other dry locations such as Arizona and Mexico.

Read the full article in The Fresno Bee.

Photo courtesy of The Fresno Bee.