Sens. Kelly, Sinema, Feinstein Introduce Bill to Combat Valley Fever

This week, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) introduced the Finding Orphan-disease Remedies with Antifungal Research and Development (FORWARD) Act with Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), legislation that supports research initiatives to combat Valley fever, a fungus commonly found in desert soils that can infect the lungs of humans and canines. 

“Valley fever continues to pose a health risk to Arizonans and many across the southwest. Our legislation ensures we support and invest in the tools needed to tackle Valley fever head-on,” said Senator Kelly. 

“Boosting research and finding treatments and vaccines to effectively combat Valley Fever in Arizona will protect families – particularly those most vulnerable – from getting sick and strengthen our public health response against future infectious diseases,” said Senator Sinema.

“Every year, thousands of Californians are diagnosed with a fungal infection known as Valley fever. Unfortunately, so little research has been conducted on this disease that doctors have difficulty diagnosing it,” said Senator Feinstein. “The FORWARD Act would support much-needed research and development into diagnostics, treatment, and prevention to combat Valley fever and other overlooked fungal infections.”

“The FORWARD act brings much-needed attention and support to the endemic fungi, such as those that cause of Valley fever, a public health disease so important to residents and visitors to the desert southwest.  Last year in Arizona, our data showed that for every four new diagnoses of COVID-19, an additional person with the same symptoms had Valley fever.  While COVID-19 is very important now, Valley fever is an endemic problem year in and year out,” said Dr. John Galgiani the Director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson.

The FORWARD ACT is designed to one day stamp out Valley fever by: 

  • Authorizing $500,000,000 to support research efforts into preventing and slowing the spread of Valley fever infections. 
  • Streamlining the process to approve new vaccines and treatments for Valley fever.
  • Establishing a working group at the Department of Health and Human Services to advise on strategies that confront gaps in science that can help detect, treat, and eradicate Valley fever. 

Click HERE to read the full legislative text of the FORWARD Act.