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The Madera Tribune

Valley fever hits 28 at solar plant sites

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webmaster | 05/02/13

SAN LUIS OBISPO (AP) — Authorities were investigating a valley fever outbreak that sickened 28 workers at solar power plants under construction in Central California. State public health and work safety staff visited sites in San Luis Obispo County two months ago, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

They were investigating valley fever illnesses among workers building the Topaz Solar Farm and California Valley Solar Ranch.

California also is trying to stem a valley fever outbreak that has caused dozens of deaths among Central Valley prisoners since 2006. This week, federal officials ordered the relocation of more than 3,000 high-risk inmates.

Valley fever can cause flu-like symptoms. It is not contagious and stems from inhaling fungal spores released from desert soil. It can kill in extreme cases, usually among people with compromised immune systems.

Valley fever is endemic to the Southwest, with about a quarter of the cases in California and more than 70 percent in Arizona, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of cases has risen over the years and topped 20,000 in 2011, the CDC reported.


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