Kudos to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, for continuing to move the ball forward on valley fever. McCarthy visited the offices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Monday and invited CDC Director Thomas Frieden and others to visit Bakersfield to learn more about the malady.
Local physicians, elected leaders and valley fever patients have long been frustrated by the widely perceived failure of the U.S. medical community to take seriously the debilitating fungal infection known scientifically as coccidioidomycosis. Maybe that's because it's seen as a regional issue: The spores that cause this infection live in the soil primarily in the southwestern U.S., inflicting their damage when they are swept into the air and into lungs.
The CDC officials will meet Kern County public health officials and treatment advocates. Here's hoping this isn't a public-relations trip: New attention on valley fever could mean new funding, and new funding could mean better diagnosis and treatment protocols -- perhaps even a vaccine
McCarthy is keeping the momentum alive. It's in the CDC's hands now, where it belongs.