Federal experts are recommending that California test inmates for immunity to a sometimes fatal soil-borne fungus before incarcerating them at two Central Valley state prisons where the disease has killed nearly three dozen inmates, according to a report obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
A federal judge last fall ordered the state to move nearly 2,600 susceptible inmates out of Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons because of the deaths and illnesses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the state go further by using hypersensitivity skin tests that could identify inmates who already were exposed to valley fever. Those inmates could thus safely be housed at the two state prisons near Fresno because they largely are immune to repeat infections.
The experts said that is a better option than the current practice of screening out black and Filipino inmates and others who statistically are more susceptible to the fungus, which grows naturally in the soil in the Central Valley and other dry locations such as Arizona and Mexico.
They project that system-wide testing would find 13 percent of the prison population is immune because the inmates previously were exposed.
This recommendation comes as some inmates are suing the prison system over Valley Fever.
Read the full story at the Associated Press