Workers’ Compensation

Ca. Workers' Comp. Quarterly 2019, Vol. 32, No. 4

AB 203: How Global Climate Change and Valley Fever Impact Workers’ Compensation

Shannon M. Blair, Esq. | Elizabeth A. Epstein, Esq. | Theodore A. Penny, Esq. Los Angeles, California

According to a recent University of California Irvine study, scientists predict that with increasing temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns associated with climate change, the incidence of human coccidioidomycosis (valley fever) will double in the areas where the disease is present and will impact previously untouched communities throughout the West.1 In addition to these environmental factors, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) identifies population growth in areas where the fungus is common, along with construction and dust-generating activities, as contributing to the rise of valley fever in California.2 The CDPH reports that Californians experienced record numbers of reported, suspected, probable, and confirmed annual cases of valley fever, with 6,084 cases in 2016, 8,181 cases in 2017, and 8,298 cases in 2018.3

In November 2015 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study of workers who contracted valley fever while building solar power farms in California during the years 2011 through 2014.4 The researchers found that

As noted above, that incidence rate has continued to accelerate. The researchers concluded that

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