BAKERSFIELD, CA. — The Kern County Public Health Department is starting a new year-long research project looking into the correlation between weather and valley fever.
The Center for Disease Control donated four air filter boxes to public health. The devices will be placed outside in different areas of the county and monitored for a year.
Experts hope to gain scientific evidence on how weather patterns impact the spread of the disease.
"On any given day, if it is a higher wind condition, if it is a rainy time, is that going to increase the likelihood of valley fever spores being present?" said Michelle Corson, the Public Relations Officer for the Kern County Public Health Department.
In turn, their research findings could help create an alert system for the community.
"After we collect all of this data, if the data demonstrates that on certain days you are going to be at higher risk, it could be like the bad air quality system," said Corson.
Valley fever is caused by breathing in spores of fungus kicked up in the air from the soil. The most common symptoms are cold or flu-like.
For Rob Purdie, who has a rare and more severe case of valley fever, the findings from the new research project could provide more peace of mind.
"I live here and these friends and family of mine that support me are breathing in the same air. They could inhale at any time a spore and maybe get sick like me. I always worry about that," said Purdie.
Corson stresses that they don't know for certain what data they will find through the project -- but they remain hopeful.