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Construction causing Paso Robles residents to worry about the long-term effects of Valley Fever

Posted at 12:42 AM, Jul 02, 2021

Gale Ybarra is an elementary school teacher and avid gardener, living with the long-term effects of Valley Fever for two years now.

Paso Robles residents worry about the long-term effects of Valley Fever, as nearby construction may impact air quality.

“I still have a mark on my lungs. My muscles are sore. I can still be tired,” said Paso Robles resident Gale Ybarra.

Ybarra lives near the plot of land where the Olsen-South Chandler Ranch will be built. It’s a project set to develop over 350 acres in the southeast corner of Paso Robles.

Developers sent a notice to neighbors saying construction may significantly impact the air quality, which may cause Valley Fever.

Valley Fever is primarily a disease of the lungs caused by inhaling airborne fungal spores.

Like many others with Valley Fever, Ybarra had flu-like symptoms and doctors misdiagnosed her with pneumonia.

“You couldn’t tell it from Influenza A, an ammonia or COVID-19 or a bad cold,” said MedStop Urgent Care Medical Director, Dr. Brian Roberts.

In some cases, dissemination of Valley Fever can occur when the disease starts in the lungs, but spread to other parts of the body.

Ybarra worries these long-term effects could affect- seniors, like her mother, living at Quail Run Estates in Paso Robles.

“How can they take care of themselves if they get this living alone? It really, really concerns me,” Ybarra said.

Other groups that may be at a higher risk for Valley Fever getting disseminated are the following:

  • Immuno-suppressed
  • Organ Transplant
  • Immune suppressing medications
  • Pregnant women
  • People with diabetes
  • Black and Filipino

Olsen-South Chandler Ranch project manager, Mike Naggar, responded in a statement saying, “The bar is very high when it comes to controlling any dust that will come from the site. The site will be required to be continuously watered down while any construction activity is occurring. There will also be continuous supervision on site by a construction foreman to ensure all requirements are being met.”

Dr. Roberts added, many people that grew up in San Luis Obispo County are already immune, and people can be tested to check if they are.

He encourages residents to take further precautions to prevent developing Valley Fever, including wearing an N95 mask, and staying indoors with the AC on and a HEPA filter.