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Be aware of the Valley Fever risk if you work in California

If you work in California in construction, excavation, landscaping, agriculture, archaeology or another job that disturbs the soil, you would be wise to gain knowledge about Valley Fever. It is crucial to recognize the symptoms of this devastating fungal disease and get medical treatment early. The coccidioidomycosis fungal spores live in the soil and become airborne when you disturb the soil.

Valley Fever symptoms are flu-like, and if you ignore them, it could lead to infection of joints, skin, bones, the brain and other organs, or pneumonia. You could unknowingly inhale the dangerous, microscopic airborne spores while you work in dusty conditions.

Precautions you can take

Safety authorities expect employers to consider the following precautions, but if you want to avoid Valley Fever, you could look out for yourself:

  • Limit exposure: Learn which areas are disease-endemic and pose high Valley Fever risks.
  • Avoid dust when possible: During dust storms and windy conditions, it is wise to stay indoors with closed doors and windows. If you are in a vehicle, do not open the windows and the vents, and set the air conditioner on the recirculating cycle.
  • Prevention: Use soil stabilizers, water or re-vegetation to limit exposure to airborne dust.
  • Sleeping quarters: If your job requires you to sleep on-site, make sure your sleeping quarters are away from dust sources.
  • Personal protective equipment: If you cannot avoid dust exposure, insist on wearing an appropriate respirator mask that can filter dust particles.
  • Learn about the symptoms: Note that you might not show signs of Valley Fever immediately. If you experience flu-like symptoms in the months after exposure, make sure the physician knows about it.

Valley Fever can be mistaken for influenza or viral or bacterial pneumonia if the doctor is unaware of exposure to contaminated dust.

The California Department of Public Health and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health warned people who travel, work or live in California that there is an uptick in reported Valley Fever cases. Safety authorities say some people face increased risks of contracting Coccidioides. If you or a loved one is older than 60 years, pregnant or suffering conditions that could compromise the immune system, such as diabetes, the threat will be higher.

Dealing with the financial consequences

You might find comfort in knowing that the California workers' compensation insurance system will take care of the financial consequences of contracting an occupational disease. Because symptoms are sometimes delayed, proving the Valley Fever to be work-related might be challenging. However, legal counsel can help with the claims process and work to secure compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages.

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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