The Valley Fever outbreak in California is infecting inmates and forcing the California Department of Corrections to take immediate action. A judge recently ordered the department to move thousands of high-risk inmates after Valley Fever plagued two prisons.
Officials from the CDCR on Tuesday said they would comply with an order by US District Judge Thelton Henderson. The judge ordered that nearly 2,600 inmates from Pleasant Valley Prison and the Avenal Prison be relocated. Where those prisoners will be moved is not yet known. The two prisons are located just 10 miles apart from one another.
Valley Fever is an infection caused by the coccidioides fungus, a tiny sport that is prevalent through the dry soil of the Western and Southwestern United States. When dried soil is kicked up and inhaled, the Valley Fever spores cause infection.
Valley Fever has been infecting inmates, which has caused fever, chills, and other symptoms. In severe cases, Valley Fever can cause chronic pneumonia or meningitis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that 40 percent of people infected with Valley Fever require hospitalization.
Groups at a high risk of contracting Valley Fever include African-Americans, Filipinos, pregnant women, or anyone with a suppressed immune system or other medical problems
While the move order is being honored, some groups have complained that moving prisoners based partly on race may lead to security fears at other prisons. The risk involves overpopulating any one facility with individuals from a specific gang.
While high risk inmates have been ordered to move, there is still the possibility that some prisoners could challenge their new placement. Inmates who don’t want to be transferred can decline their relocation order.
Moving high-risk patients will help ensure against a more rapid spread of Valley Fever among inmates, but medical experts claim it doesn’t go far enough in addressing the issue.