The deadly disease lies dormant during dry summers in Central California, but it comes alive when the rains arrive in fall. Causing flu-like symptoms, it goes airborne, with spores that root in the soft tissue of your lungs. Californians have a higher chance of contracting the disease than chickenpox, hepatitis, or West Nile virus, according to the health care news organization Reporting on Health. The fungal infection known as valley fever also has a preference for people of certain ethnic backgrounds. In the prisons of California's Central Valley, about 70 percent of the victims have been African-American.