Valley fever hits 28 at solar plant near Bakersfield

Both plants located west of Kern County line

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Authorities are investigating a valley fever outbreak that sickened 28 workers at solar power plants under construction near Kern County.

The Los Angeles Times reports public health and work safety staff visited two sites in San Luis Obispo County two months ago.

Those sites have been identified as the Topaz Solar Farm and California Valley Solar Ranch.  Both plants are located along Highway 58 in California Valley, just west of the Kern County line.

Valley fever is contracted by breathing spores from a fungus found in desert soil. It can cause flu-like symptoms and death in extreme cases.

Mark Simonin of an electrical workers union says one infected worker was an electrician who inhaled dust while digging at one site.

California 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 more than 3,000 inmates relocated.

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