Press-Enterprise — California’s prisons this week will start transferring inmates susceptible to Valley Fever from two Central Valley prisons, where infections from the airborne fungus sickened more than 1,800 prisoners between 2008 and 2012.
Valley Fever has been blamed for 62 deaths among California prison inmates statewide, most at the Avenal and Pleasant Valley facilities.
A report prepared by a court receiver looking into the illness in California’s prisons said 200 prisoners yearly spend 5,000 days in hospital for treatment of their severe conditions, at an estimated care cost of about $23.4 million. African-American and Filipino inmates are particularly susceptible to Valley Fever, as are prisoners who have weakened immune systems.
Along with death, the disease can leave some with permanent disabilities.
The court-ordered transfer affects as many as 2,600 inmates at Avenal and Pleasant Valley.
At Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga the rate of infection was 38 times that of residents in Coalinga, and 600 times the rate of the entire Fresno County. A court document that cited those figures did not detail outbreak numbers for the Avenal prison, which is in the city of the same name in Kings County.
While the disease is not contagious, experts believe people exposed to it constantly may develop immunities, and there may be disproportionately more prisoners who are vulnerable to the disease. continue reading...