Valley fever outbreak strikes solar power plant workers

May 1, 2013

solar1Valley fever has struck 28 workers at two solar power construction sites in San Luis Obispo County. [LATimes]

Staff from the California Department of Public Health, investigators from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and San Luis Obispo County visited the Topaz Solar Farm and California Valley Solar Ranch near the Carrizo Plain two months ago, officials said.

Workers at the plants are scraping and clearing to make way for thousands of acres of solar panels. Valley fever is contracted by breathing in fungal spores released when desert soils are disturbed.

Most people who breathe in the spores develop no symptoms at all. Others, about 40 percent, develop flu-like symptoms including cough, congestion, fever, fatigue, body aches and headaches that can last a month or more. Valley Fever can lead to severe pneumonia, meningitis and even death.

The threat of acquiring the respiratory illness extends to residents living near the construction sites.

Cases of Valley Fever in San Luis Obispo County have more than doubled over the past few years from 87 reported cases in 2009 to 225 cases in 2011. California’s increase mirrors that, with reported cases growing 71 percent from 2001 to 2011.




  1. Myself says:

    There you go, tearing up the Carrisa Plains for thousands of acres of solar panels, where were the enviromental wackos when this was permitted, these solar farms are right next to hwy 58 what a blight this is going to be for the next 50 years,Valley Fever is known to come out of that area and parts east, it gets so hot there in the plains that a passing water trucks spray is gone in a matter of a couple minutes you can’t keep the dust down out there. All of this because we think being green is the way to go.

    (-4) 10 Total Votes - 3 up - 7 down
    • rockhound1965 says:

      “where were the enviromental wackos when this was permitted”….
      Well, maybe if you didn’t live under a rock and read a newspaper, you would see that the “environmental wackos” as you call me, were there….and at EVERY meeting about these so-called “farms”…being ignored by Jim Patterson and every person working for the county, especially the county planner, who just sat there with $$$ in his eyes. These are industrial complexes, not “farms”.
      I point out the Valley Fever issue, along with other life-impacting contaminants like ANTHRAX (there was an anthrax outbreak out in California Valley in the 1980’s and it was in the newspaper)…..only to be “poo-poo’ed” by Jim Patterson and his cronies, because they wanted “good things” to happen to the ranchers out there. Too bad about everyone else. Why do you think Ann McMahon & Sarah Christie stopped associating with Jim Patterson. Because he sold out.
      I just love how the solar farms are giving “donations” to the Cal Valley CSD and NO ONE knows what happened to that money. No one in the community got any of it!

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. Jorge Estrada says:

    The increase in Valley Fever cases is no surprize given the low rain fall years. People hiking dusty trails is questionably safe and since I own property near a Kitty Litter quarry, I would question having that stuff in my house too. Actually, every breath we take sucks.

    (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
  3. MaryMalone says:

    Certain ethnic groups (Asian, some Polynesians, some African-Amercians) are more susceptible to “catching” Valley Fever and/or experiencing severe complications after contracting Valley Fever.

    The LATimes, yesterday, published an article about how California has been ordered to move prisoners from facilities in the Valley-Fever-prone regions (

    Today they have an article about the outbreak of Valley Fever in the solar energy workers. The article indicates the CDC announced in March that there has been a 71% increase in Valley Fever cases in California in the last decade.

    While it is welcome news that prisoners susceptible to Valley Fever will be moved to an area where they are less likely to contract the disease, there is no requirement to move the susceptible state workers, such as the staff at the Coalinga mental facility, to facilities where they will not be at risk for catching Valley Fever.

    I know someone who contracted Valley Fever while working at Coalinga whose ethnic background made him more susceptible to contracting the disease. It has destroyed his health. The medications he has to take to combat the Valley Fever fungus inhabiting his body are extremely toxic, especially to the heart. He is a relatively young man, yet his heart is permanently weakened and damaged, and he faces a much shortened lifespan.

    The real problem is that the CDC has done very, very little to deal with this chronic, potentially fatal outbreak of a disease. Is it because those most likely to be negatively impacted are not from the “rich-white” ethnic group? I hope not because I’m kind of a fan of the CDC, but there has to be a reason for why they have ignored this known, recurrent tragedy-in-the-making.

    (-15) 23 Total Votes - 4 up - 19 down
  4. Mr. Holly says:

    Could this possibly be caused by sand blowing from Pismo Beach. I’m sure that Larry guy from the APCD will jump on board here and figure out a way to fine somebody. There had better be some money put aside to check to see if those rats out there have been affected by the dust. Will it ever end?

    (8) 22 Total Votes - 15 up - 7 down

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