“How many of you have had valley fever?” I asked.
I was sharing some of the major findings from the Reporting on Health Collaborative’s ‘Just One Breath’ series on valley fever with about 40 San Joaquín Valley reidents. Not one person raised a hand.
I rephrased the question: “How many of you know someone who has had valley fever?”
Hands shot up around the room.
Their response underscored an underlying theme of the Reporting investigative series: Valley residents have largely accepted valley fever as a fact of life. Everyone knows somebody who has had valley fever – most have survived.
The pictures below, by Vida photographer Daniel Cásarez, begin to illustrate the widespread impact this disease has had on Valley residents.
After I finished my presentation, Domitilia Lemus, of Plainview, above, shared her connection to valley fever with the group: A relative, she said, died at age 21 of valley fever, leaving behind two children.
Later, I invited group members to write their connections to valley fever on a white board. Esther Martínez, of Alpaugh, above, scribbled: “I know six people with valley fever, but they don’t want anyone to know they have this disease. I hope they find a cure.”
More residents shared their connections to valley fever with me – and you. Their photos and stories – written in their own hand writing – are below.
Josie, of Seville
Becky, of Seville
Erasto, of Porterville
If you’re community group would like to learn more about valley fever, or if you’re interested in sharing your struggle with valley fever, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (661)748-3142 and leave a message.
Or, write your experience on a white board, and e-mail us the picture.
Valley fever, previously on Harvesting Health: