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Quick Tests are Key: Brian Renninger, Bakersfield, 48

Brian Renninger advises Central Valley residents to insist on testing for valley fever if flu-like symptoms persist.

I am a recent valley fever survivor. I like to think I know exactly how I got it. It was the summer of 2009 when windstorms were kicking up cloud of dusts. At the time of my diagnosis, I smoked. I thought I was just having reoccurring bronchitis that smokers get. But, this time, I coughed so hard I vomited. At that point, I thought, ‘Something is definitely wrong.’

My doctor ordered me a cocci test and the chest X-ray showed valley fever-induced pneumonia. They put me on anti-fungals, but it didn’t seem to help. A nurse told me my medical team had debated putting me in a medically-induced coma. They ended up increasing the amount of anti-fungal medications. I had to miss three months of work.

More than a year later, I felt better physically but my insides weren’t getting any better. The fungus was tunneling into my lungs like a gopher. It was a 2.5-year battle. My doctor suspected I had valley fever right off the bat. I was tested, and I got seen by a specialist quickly. In this valley, in this area, if someone is still sick with flu-like symptoms after a week, they should be tested for valley fever. Why did that woman in your articles suffer for eight months?

It’s so prevalent here in Kern County. It should be one of those things that’s a no-brainer: Just test them. As a survivor, my suggestion to everyone in Kern is: If you get flu-like symptoms at any time and they don’t go away within 7-to-10 days, force your doctor to give you a cocci test.

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