BAKERFIELD, Calif. — With strong winds like we've seen in Kern County this week, comes increased risks for valley fever, but experts say this time of year cases are not as common.
"A windy day in August is probably more risky than a windy day in January," said Dr. Royce Johnson the medical director for Valley Fever Institute for Kern Medical.
According to Dr. Johnson, valley fever is every month, but January is a low-frequency month. " Frequency begins in May and June, and then really goes up in July, August, October and by November on starts to taper off.
Dr. Johnson said spores prefer drier summer conditions, which is why there are more cases in the summer and early fall.
Experts say even though this month sees fewer cases of valley fever, it is still a risk and precautions should be taken. Some ways to keep yourself safe is to have a face-mask available if you are in a dusty storm or area, a N95 face-mask is recommended. When the winds are active or if you are working outside, avoid breathing in dirt or dust in areas where valley fever is more common. The most common area, according the Kern County Public Health Department is called the Valley West area . Animals can also get valley fever so protect them by keeping them indoors.
The only way to tell if you have valley fever is to get the proper tests. According to the Valley Fever Institute, only one in four infections are accurately diagnosed. Dr. Johnson says the misdiagnoses is because, the symptoms are similar to the flu, pneumonia and other respiratory infections with the only difference being valley fever symptoms last longer.
Dr. Johnson said, it's vital to catch valley fever as soon as possible and if you have severe flu-like conditions then get the proper tests and ask your doctor to send them to the Kern County Health Department.
For more information on valley fever and additional ways to protect yourself contact the Valley Fever Institute through their website www.valleyfeverinstitute.com