PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Congressman David Schweikert and other U.S. lawmakers from Arizona are hoping to pass a Valley Fever bill.
Valley Fever is a fungal infection that is acquired when you inhale spores that come out of the ground. It does not have a cure or a vaccine.
"One half of the bill is working to fund and find that cure for Valley Fever, and we’ve come a long way," said Schweikert. "The second half of the bill is actually a technology piece that’s really going to help researchers identify the disease by being able to use data that’s in hospital servers and other places, but do it in a really safe and private way."
Doctors said Arizona is in peak Valley Fever season until the monsoon gets here.
"The rain damps down the soil, so the spores don’t get out," said John Galgiani, the director of the Banner-University Medicine Valley Fever Program and the University of Arizona Valley Fever Center for Excellence."There’s a lag time because there’s a one to three week period from when you inhale the spore before you start having symptoms."
One of our very own Arizona's Family newsroom colleagues, Cat Holland, had the infection when she was in college.
"It’s very painful," said Holland. "It’s that kind of cough that makes everybody around you cringe just because it sounds horrible. It sounds painful. It just was not pleasant."
"U of A and a company that licensed a drug is potentially a cure of this disease, and it’s been sitting for a number of years waiting for investment," said Galgiani. "I’m thinking if we got some of the incentives, that this would help either incentive investment in that, or some of the legislation would actually suggest some of the federal agencies that could help with the drug development."
U.S. Representative Greg Stanton and U.S. Senator Martha McSally have also voiced their hopes the bill would pass.
“No family wants to learn a loved one has been infected with Valley Fever and that there is no known cure—but it’s a reality that nearly 7,000 Arizonans faced in 2017. That number is on the rise, but we can do something about it. This is a common-sense, bipartisan bill that will make it a priority to find a cure and develop a vaccine,” said U.S. Representative Greg Stanton.