The Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical Center has gotten one step closer to securing more funding for research.

The Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee has recommended Sen. Jean Fuller’s request for $3 million to expand valley fever research be included as part of the state’s 2018-19 budget proposal that is set to be voted on next week by the Senate and Assembly.

If approved, the budget will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for final approval.

"This is great news in the fight against valley fever. It is the culmination of years of work to raise awareness of this devastating disease and to prioritize the resources that are so badly needed for research and treatment," Fuller, R-Bakersfield, said in a news release. "Kern Medical is a leader in this fight and this investment will help expand their research for better treatments, and ultimately a cure."

The $3 million requested is part of a total of $8 million one-time money set aside in the budget for valley fever research and outreach.

"Countless patients and families will benefit from the actions taken today by our dedicated legislators. We are grateful that this funding will remain right here in Kern County supporting the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical,” said Russell V. Judd, CEO of the center.

Valley fever is a fungus found in soil that, when disturbed, releases spores into the air that can attack a person’s respiratory system when breathed in.

According to recent data from the Kern County Public Health department, 2,959 people were infected with valley fever in Kern County last year, nine of which died from it.