Following the 17 January 1994 Northridge. California earthquake (M = 6.7), Ventura County, California, experienced a major outbreak of coccidioidomycosis (CM), commonly known as valley fever, a respiratory disease contracted by inhaling airborne fungal spores. In the 8 weeks following the earthquake (24 January through 15 March), 203 outbreak-associated cases were reported, which is about an order of magnitude more than the expected number of cases, and three of these cases were fatal. Simi Valley, in easternmost Ventura County, had the highest attack rate in the county, and the attack rate decreased westward across the county. The temporal and spatial distribution of CM cases indicates that the outbreak resulted from inhalation of spore-contaminated dust generated by earthquake-triggered landslides. Canyons North East of Simi Valley produced many highly disrupted, dust-generating landslides during the earthquake and its aftershocks. Winds after the earthquake were from the North East, which transported dust into Simi Valley and beyond to communities to the West. The three fatalities from the CM epidemic accounted for 4 percent of the total earthquake-related fatalities.
Additional Publication Details
A public health issue related to collateral seismic hazards: The valley fever outbreak triggered by the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake