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Casey Christie / The Californian

Terry Oubsuntia, microbiology specialist, labels valley fever test trays in a laboratory at the Kern County Public Health Services Department in this file photo.

A highly anticipated valley fever symposium coming to Bakersfield next month will start with a reception for survivors of the disease and a forum featuring some of the nation's top public health officials.

The reception for survivors, their friends and family will be held at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 23, at the Kern County Public Health Services Department's Hans Einstein Center, 1800 Mount Vernon Ave. The reception will be followed by a community forum with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, and U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R- Bakersfield.

"In our communities, all of us know someone affected by valley fever," said McCarthy, who has spearheaded and promoted the upcoming symposium, in a news release. "As we launch this year's Valley Fever Symposium, we want those that have been affected by this disease to share their personal stories and experiences."

Folks who donate during the "Pint for a Pass Blood Drive," which lasts through Sept. 11, will get a free fair pass and can also enter drawings for more admission passes and a gift pack of four fair admissions and four unlimited carnival wrist bands.

From 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, donors at Houchin's new Bolthouse Drive location will be treated to two fair favorites, Bakersfield DeMolay corn dogs and Southern Sierra Council, Boy Scouts of America baked potatoes while supplies last, according to a news release.

Donors can visit the Truxtun location at 5901 Truxtun Ave. from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; or 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Bolthouse location at 11515 Bolthouse Drive is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Visit or call 323-4222 for an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome.

-- Californian staff writer Rachel Cook