SAN FRANCISCO—Valley fever is spreading so quickly through two Central California prisons that a medical expert is recommending the state act quickly to stem the outbreak or shut the institutions down.

In a sworn declaration to a federal judge in San Francisco, Dr. John Galgiani said the situation at the Pleasant Valley and Avenal prisons is a "public health emergency."

Valley fever is a fungal infection that causes flu-like symptoms and can be lethal. The San Francisco Chronicle reports ( http://bit.ly/ZRi7sn) that according to Galgiani, 62 California prisoners died from 2006 through January 2013 after coming down with the disease.

His report did not specify how many of those deaths occurred at Pleasant Valley and Avenal. But he said those prisons had by far the highest rates of Valley fever.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com