Valley fever, in their words

“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, 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:

Sharing paletas – and our concerns about health and the environment

Last Friday, we celebrated Harvesting Health’s second birthday with paletas from La Reina de Michoacán.

But the event was more than a chance to dig into Fresno’s best ice cream. It was also an opportunity for friends of this blog, and health and environmental advocates, to come together, in real life, to discuss how community health and environmental justice issues impact their daily lives.

To foster this discussion, I wrote simple, personal questions about health and the environment on index cards. After savoring their paletas, party guests picked a card, and then wrote their answers on a white board.

Below are their answers, in their own words.

What community health issue makes you tick?

Paleta: pineapple

Paleta: stawberries and cream

Paleta: pistachio

Paleta: stawberries and cream


Name one change you would like to see in our community health or environment.

Paleta: mango and chile

Paleta: mango


Camille, Phoebe and Angelica
Paleta: coffee, cookies and cream

How does the environment impact your health?

Paleta: guayaba

Paleta: coconut

What have you done to improve your health, or the health of our community?

Paleta: strawberry

Paleta: chocolate


Paleta: yogurt and fruit

What have you done to improve our local environment?

Paleta: pistachio

Thanks to everyone who made it to the party, and thanks for supporting health blogging in the San Joaquín Valley! And thanks to La Reina, for providing the sweet treats. If you missed the party, drop me a note, and we’ll meet up for a paleta in the future!


You’re invited: Help me celebrate Harvesting Health’s 2nd birthday!

Can you believe it has already been two years?

In June 2010, I launched Harvesting Health, as part of my community health reporting fellowship at Vida en el Valle. Since then, I have written 117 posts – more than one a week for two years.

Through this blog, readers have:

Now I want to hear from you. What have you enjoyed reading about on Harvesting Health? What would you like to read more about?

In keeping with tradition, I will be celebrating Harvesting Health’s second birthday next Friday, June 8, at 3:30 p.m., at Fresno paletería La Reina de Michoacán.

Come for the fantastic paletas (did somebody say strawberries and cream?) and stay for the informal discussion about community health and environmental justice. It’s on me – especially if you are open to sharing your health and environmental goals, for an upcoming Harvesting Health feature!

RSVP by leaving a note in the comments section below – or by sending me a tweet!