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In this file photo, Dr. Marc Orbach, right, examines a culture plate for single bacterial colonies as student researcher Jesse Lewis, left, watches in Orbah's lab at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Orbach is the UA plant sciences professor who invented the CPS1 vaccine they believe will prevent valley fever.聽

Kern County Public Health has seen a 22 percent increase so far this year in the number of serological lab tests performed for valley fever, an indication that cases could top last year鈥檚 figures, which were the worst recorded since the 2011 epidemic.

The public health lab performed 15,058 tests for coccidioidomycosis, or聽cocci for short, through September 鈥 almost 3,300 more than the same time last year. When lower figures came in for September 2016, the Kern County Public Health Services Department seized the opportunity to warn the public of a potential increase in cases.

鈥婬arold Pierce can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @RoldyPierce.

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