Public Health Services says Valley Fever cases grew 27-percent in Kern County last year while nine people died of the fungal illness. Epidemiologist Kimberly Hernandez says it’s hard to say what’s behind the spike. “Climate has a role and our exposure to dust has a role, we also think the awareness that’s been going on in the last few years about that here plays a role.” 2017 is the second worst year for the disease on record and the fourth straight year the number of cases here has gone up.

Kelli Pierce/SuzG