Monday, April 22, 2013

2013 Cocci Study Group

Today is Denise's birthday, and it's a good day indeed! Even better when I reflect on how frail she was around this time in 2006 after her marathon hospital stay. I can't think of her on special days like this without also thinking fondly of so many medical professionals, family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, church crew, and total strangers that carried us through that difficult time. I'm one grateful guy!

A couple weeks ago the 2013 Cocci Study Group convened in Pasadena CA (nice that it was close to home and not in a cocci-endemic region this time). Denise was able to attend along with me and my aunt so that we could hear the latest research about the disease. As usual at this event (aimed at medical professionals), there were lots of big words and medical concepts that the doctors & researchers were throwing around that I didn't understand. One thing I understood and remembered is that development still seems to be stalled on drugs that might either immunize against or cure Valley Fever. At the dinner afterward we were able to rub elbows with some doctors & researchers (literally... we were jammed in at the tables). We were able to get clarification on something we've been wondering about. It's been said that a person can only get cocci once. But we wondered why someone that has had cocci can seem to get over the initial bout and be fine for years, then succumb to it later. They said that the patient was never "cured" of the "original case" since there's no cure for cocci. It's been the same case of cocci all along; it just flared up later. One doctor likened it to cancer, which can go into remission for an extended time, then show up later. Not the happiest of thoughts, but all the more reason to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of each day we can.

Cocci has made it into the larger news outlets lately...

Scientific American: Valley Fever Throws Baseball a Curve
(not mentioned in the article, but Cincinnati Reds player Johnny Bench caught cocci years ago while at a golf fundraiser in Bakersfield CA)

NPR Feature: Cases of Mysterious Valley Fever Rise In American Southwest 
The article mentions prisons, and Pleasant Valley State Prison near where Denise grew up in Coalinga CA leads the numbers in cocci cases among inmates.

Finally, the world of cocci is a small one. One of Denise's high school friends and her husband live in Coalinga. The husband, who works out in the oil fields, contracted cocci and lost a considerable amount of weight. He's started the medication and is on the upswing, and we're glad that his case hasn't disseminated to other organs and caused difficulties to the extent that Denise experienced them. Hopefully his restoration to health will be rapid and complete. 


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