Multi-million dollar investment on valley fever research coming to Bakersfield
Roughly 1,000 patients needed for trial
Last Updated: 76 days ago
It only takes one breath to suffer from valley fever but many around the county could soon breathe a sigh of relief as top health officials announced a multi-million dollar investment in valley fever research.
Valley fever, also known as the 'silent epidemic,' plagues thousands of residents in the U.S. each year. Members of Congress and top health officials kicked off day two of Rep. Kevin McCarthy's Valley Fever Symposium at CSUB and announced plans for a clinical trial in Bakersfield.
"The goal is to get answers to some very important questions about valley fever. Specifically, how important is it to make the diagnosis as early as possible and how well does the treatment work in preventing more serious complications," Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said.
The National Institutes of Health will be leading the trial that will cost millions of dollars. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said they plan to help study how the trial will be executed.
"It takes about a year to set up a clinical trial and it can take a few years to gather the patients because the goal is to have 1,000 patients with lung infections or community-acquired pneumonia in the trial," Dr. Frieden said.
Dr. Collins with NIH said patients in Bakersfield who are diagnosed with pneumonia or lung infections by their physician will be asked if they're willing to participate in the trial and sign a consent form. However, because this disease is not widely known across the country, one of the biggest challenges is federal funding.
"It's considered an 'orphan disease', meaning that it only happens in certain parts of the country so you don't have a large enough population that everyone's going to see it as a cause throughout the nation," Rep. Kevin McCarthy said. "The problem is, though, is that it affects everyone."
With over 17,000 valley fever cases that were diagnosed in California and Arizona in 2012 alone, health officials say knowledge is key.
"Ultimately, we're going to answer a lot of questions and we're going to raise the community's familiarity with this disease in a way that could be quite helpful," Dr. Collin said.
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