Coccidioidomycosis among Workers Constructing Solar Power Farms, California, USA, 2011-2014

Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Nov;21(11):1997-2005. doi: 10.3201/eid2111.150129.


Coccidioidomycosis is associated with soil-disruptive work in Coccidioides-endemic areas of the southwestern United States. Among 3,572 workers constructing 2 solar power-generating facilities in San Luis Obispo County, California, USA, we identified 44 patients with symptom onset during October 2011-April 2014 (attack rate 1.2 cases/100 workers). Of these 44 patients, 20 resided in California outside San Luis Obispo County and 10 resided in another state; 9 were hospitalized (median 3 days), 34 missed work (median 22 days), and 2 had disseminated disease. Of the 25 patients who frequently performed soil-disruptive work, 6 reported frequent use of respiratory protection. As solar farm construction in Coccidioides-endemic areas increases, additional workers will probably be exposed and infected unless awareness is emphasized and effective exposure reduction measures implemented, including limiting dust generation and providing respiratory protection. Medical providers, including those in non-Coccidioides-endemic areas, should suspect coccidioidomycosis in workers with compatible illness and report cases to their local health department.

Keywords: California; Coccidioides; coccidioidomycosis; construction workers; disease transmission; fungi; infectious; occupational health; solar power farms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California / epidemiology
  • Coccidioides / pathogenicity
  • Coccidioidomycosis / economics
  • Coccidioidomycosis / epidemiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Solar Energy