Spherusol

Spherusol comes in vials of 10 doses. A positive result indicates a previous bout with valley fever and an acquired immunity to the disease.

Nielsen Biosciences

If you’re curious about whether you’ve ever contracted valley fever, but never been tested, now you’ve got no excuse.

The Kern County Public Health Services Department began offering the antigen skin test, Spherusol, at its Mount Vernon Avenue clinic for $77 this week.

“This is a tool that we are excited to offer residents who want to know about their personal history with valley fever,” said Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine. “We want to empower residents to make the most informed decisions about their health.”

The test can detect whether you’ve breathed in the coccidioidal fungal spore that causes valley fever and is endemic to Kern County.

In most cases, those who inhale the spores don’t present any symptoms at all, and the likelihood of developing the disease decreases significantly. In other cases, patients present flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, extreme fatigue and a rash.

In the very worst cases, the spore can disseminate into the bloodstream and cause a lifetime of health issues.

The skin test cannot make a valley fever diagnoses that would result in treatment (only a blood test can do that), but it’s a tool that can provide information about medical history and provide insight about the risk for developing valley fever in the future. If you test positive, chances are you won't get sick from valley fever in the future.

No physician referral is required for the test, which involves getting a small injection on the inside of the forearm, then two days later, having the size of the bump determining the result.

Costs are paid up front, and the clinic cannot bill insurance companies for the test, Public Health spokeswoman Michelle Corson said, adding, however, that patients can take the receipt to their insurance companies to work out coverage.

The Public Health Clinic is at 1800 Mount Vernon Ave.

Harold Pierce covers education and health for The Californian. He can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter @RoldyPierce

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