By Julie Small, KPCC
Two Central Valley prisons are plagued with Valley Fever, and now California officials have agreed to transfer thousands of inmates. The action comes a week after a federal court moved to enforce a new prison medical policy. That policy bars the state from housing inmates who are susceptible to the fungal disease in the prisons where Valley Fever is most prevalent.
Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver in charge of prison medical care, says Pleasant Valley and Avenal State prisons in the Central Valley are the prison system’s hotspots. “The overwhelming majority of cases of people coming down with Valley Fever originate from those two facilities," Hayhoe said.
Eighteen inmates have died from Valley Fever in the last many months, and hundreds more have suffered from its flu-like symptoms.
Earlier this year the federal receiver directed the state to transfer more than 2,500 inmates at the two prisons who are known to be susceptible to the disease. Those susceptible include medically high-risk inmates, such as people undergoing chemotherapy, and all African-American and Filipino prisoners. “The whole point of our directive was to prevent serious illness and death,” Hayhoe said.