Deadly disease breaks out in prisons

Dozens of inmates dead at two state prisons in San Joaquin Valley

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched an investigation into the deaths of more than three dozen state-prison inmates who contracted valley fever.

Federal receiver J. Clark Kelso ordered the relocation of about 3,200 high-risk inmates from the two state prisons—Avenal and Pleasant Valley in the San Joaquin Valley—where the deaths occurred, according to the Los Angeles Times. In court papers filed May 2, Kelso said the state has had an “anemic” response to the outbreak; John Galgiani, a physician hired by attorneys representing the inmates, said the outbreak constitutes a “medical emergency.”

The disease—also known as “California fever” and “desert rheumatism”—is very common in the state’s Central Valley; it is dormant during dry spells, developing as mold when rains come. People contract the disease when they breathe in the fungal spores.