It might be seem like a stretch to call the Western States Drought a medical hazard particular to Asian Americans, but one aspect of the drought will affects certain Asian Americans more drastically: an increase in Valley Fever. Valley fever, also known as Coccidioidomycosis, long since since been a problem (an increasing one) in places like Kern County, in California’s hot and dusty San Joaquin Valley for which it is named, but more recently, it has been been found and discussed in locations such as Utah and Arizona (where the majority of cases in the US actually occur). While all racial groups are equally vulnerable to getting Valley Fever, some groups, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Filipino Americans, are exceptionally vulnerable for the serious and sometimes fatal version called disseminated disease, where it spreads beyond the lungs into the joints, brain, and other organs.
As cases have increased since I last wrote on this disease, so have research efforts on Valley Fever. Efforts have been long been underway to develop a vaccine for this disease since the 1960s. Some progress has been made on a vaccine for Valley Fever in dogs, which like many other animals can also get the disease. A version of the vaccine for humans is said to be years away.
While African Americans, Hispanics, and Filipino Americans are particularly vulnerable to the severe forms of Valley Fever, other groups are vulnerable, such as the immuno-suppressed and women in their final trimester of pregnancy. Recommended preventative actions include keeping dust away in areas where the the disease is common (e.g. stay inside, use recirculated air in a car during a dust storm, using an N95 quality mask). Climate change is thought to make this problem worse , so Valley Fever will be an increasing risk not only for Filipino Americans but for everyone through out the Western United States.