A simmering epidemic is taking shape here in California, and effective treatments to stop it are getting harder to find. In 2020 alone, the CDC has reported that antibiotic-resistant infections and related deaths increased by 15 percent. Sure, a portion of this was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but what far too many people don’t know is that antimicrobial resistance is an increasingly urgent threat throughout the country, and it takes many forms here in California.

While people living with chronic conditions are at an increased risk, there is another growing threat right here in California that is putting antimicrobials to the test. Valley fever is caused by a fungus found naturally in parts of the state, most notably Kern County at the southern end of the Central Valley. Symptoms are usually flu-like, though at its most serious, valley fever can be long-lasting and even lead to death.

Rob Purdie is a lifelong Bakersfield resident who was diagnosed with cocci meningitis, one of the most severe types of valley fever, in 2012. Since his diagnosis, he has shared his knowledge and experience with numerous media entities, legislators, state and federal health agencies, and the public. He leads Patient and Program Development at the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical.