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Valley fever awareness

HANFORD — Leaders are working to help people know about the sometimes-deadly fungal infection, Valley fever.

Paula Massey, founder of Women with Visions Unlimited, is planning a Valley Fever Awareness event at the Hanford Mall on Saturday to further bring awareness of Valley fever to the area.

This event is coming a month after Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to help further efforts of education and awareness that was authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield.

This event also is being held about a month before the anniversary of Massey’s son Jeffery Hamilton's death from Valley fever.

Massey said that it has almost been a year since her son’s death and residents of Kings County need to be informed of the dangers of the disease.

“It’s a hard thing to do, but it has to be done,” Massey said.

On Oct. 13 in the food court from noon to 2 p.m., music will be playing, information will be shared and people’s stories will be heard, Massey said.

Massey said that this event is meant for people who have Valley fever, know someone who has Valley fever or want to know more about the disease.

Massey said representatives will be there from various organizations to share information about the disease.

K+K Veterinary, in Lemoore, will be there to provide information on how Valley fever affects pets.

The Kings County Health Department will also be in attendance to share how the disease affects people.

Representatives from Salas’ and Congressman David Valadao’s office will be in attendance to answer questions on how they are fighting to bring attention to Valley fever on a state and national level.

Massey said that this event is important because she does not think much attention will be given to Hanford since Bakersfield has the Valley Fever Institute.

Massey was referring to the new legislation that Brown signed Sept. 11, the Valley Fever Education, Early Diagnosis and Treatment Act.

The act, now a law, requires that the California Department of Public Health conduct an outreach and awareness campaign to educate health care providers and the general public about symptoms, tests, diagnosis and treatment of Valley fever.

“This legislation is a big step forward to meet the growing number of cases across our state,” Salas said.

Valley fever is a disease that affects people of all ages, Dr. Chokechai Rongkavilit, medical director of pediatric infectious diseases at Valley Children’s Healthcare, said in a press release. He said that more awareness among families and providers will allow them to promptly recognize the symptoms which can help lead to an early diagnosis and treatment.

Massey said that it is important she does her part in spreading the word and will continue to help bring awareness to the area.

“Our community needs to be aware of what’s going on,” Massey said. “They need to know about Valley fever.”

Massey also said that community members will also be able to share their stories about how Valley fever has affected them and their families.

Cedric Soul, who is the DJ for the event, and Massey’s son Theodore Hamilton is scheduled to briefly speak on how the disease affected the brothers and for Theodore Hamilton how it affects him. He was diagnosed around two years before his brother’s death.

For those interested in speaking about their experience with Valley fever, Massey says to call her to be added to the list of speakers. She can be reached at 761-4690.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or chelsea.shannon@lee.net.

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