Valley Fever Institute

Valley Fever is a serious costly illness that can be devastating to those who acquire it. In areas where Valley fever is common it is difficult to avoid exposure completely. Knowledge about Valley Fever is an important to help you and your doctor recognize symptoms early and avoid delays in diagnosis and treatment.

Valley Fever is an illness caused by a fungus. The fungus lives in the soil and dirt in parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Nevada and Northwestern Mexico.  In California, it’s rampant across the Central Valley and Kern County is a highly endemic area. About 30 percent of all valley fever cases nationwide occur in the Central Valley each year.

People can get Valley Fever when they breathe in spores, a form of the Valley Fever fungus.  It can get inside the lungs and cause an illness that might seem like the flu. Most people who get Valley Fever have mild symptoms and often get better on their own. More severe sickness is rare, but it can be serious and even deadly.

Anyone who travels to an environment where the fungus lives are at risk for developing Valley Fever.  It’s always important to take basic safety measures around soil and dirt when you work, play, or travel.   Getting infected with valley fever can be as simple as driving through Bakersfield with the windows down.

Kern Medical Valley Fever Institute

Kern Medical has a long history caring for those suffering from Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis), which began with Hans E. Einstein, MD (Feb. 3, 1923 – Aug. 11, 2012). Dr. Einstein was the foremost authority on the disease and chaired the Department for decades.

Today, internationally recognized infectious disease experts Royce H. Johnson, MD, and Arash Heidari, MD, continue to research valley fever, care for patients, and are currently participating in a National Institutes of Health sponsored clinical trial.

We have extensive experience with clinical trials and research spanning more than 40 years as we have the largest population of patients with Cocci, which is needed to trial medications and treatments, which other organizations cannot provide.

The mission of the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical is to increase education & awareness for the public, patients and health care providers; provide the best patient care available and promote research that includes epidemiology, clinical drug development, prevention, immunology and immunizations.

The Institute is home to the Valley’s only dedicated Valley Fever Clinic led by Dr. Johnson and Dr. Heidari.  It is comprised of a comprehensive team of clinical experts focused on the latest patient care treatments and provides resources that extend beyond Kern County.  The treatments offered at the Valley Fever Clinic are not available anywhere else in the world.

Many patients in Kern County are under or over treated.  By the time they are referred to Dr.  Johnson or Dr. Heidari, they have life-threatening complications.  They work collaboratively with Neurosurgeons and other specialists to care for each patient with the latest treatments available.  We have patients referred to us not only locally, but regionally, nationally and internationally.

The new state of the art Valley Fever Institute will open in 2020.  It will be a patient centered medical home, designed to meet the needs of patients and their families as well as caregivers.  It will have a therapeutic environment with enough space for loved ones to join them during treatments.

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