With more than 20,000 cases reported each year in the United States, not including those that go undiagnosed, awareness of Valley Fever remains very minimal. Coccidiomycosis, commonly known as Valley Fever, is caused by a fungus found in the Central California soil.
The strategic location of UC Merced in the Central Valley, its expertise in interdisciplinary health sciences research, and focus on community engagement gives the university an advantage to understanding the biological and psychological effects of Valley Fever, and promoting awareness.Yet many UC Merced students seem unaware of the disease.
“I have no idea whatsoever. Is it a fever that is caused by the polluted air in the Valley?” One UC Merced student answered when asked to explain what Valley Fever was. Others are more knowledgeable, however, and can relate to the disease in a more personal manner.
Patrick DeLuna, an incoming third year student and a native of Bakersfield where Valley Fever is prevalent, stated, “With the disease being so close to home, my parents took precautions. I would definitely say my risk of contraction decreased because we were so aware with my mother in the health field and with my experience witnessing my friend go through it in high school”.
Every individual who is at a risk of exposure to a serious illness should be at least be aware of its existence, therefore UC Merced students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to inquire information on Valley Fever.
Crystal Bui (Guest Writer)
UC Merced Health Sciences Research Institute Undergraduate Research Assistant