Lung Disease Killing Dentists in Mysterious Cluster, CDC Report Says

Lung Disease Killing Dentists in Mysterious Cluster, CDC Report Says

A cluster of cases of a progressive lung disease occurred among dentists and other dental workers treated at one Virginia care center, according to Thursday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seven of the patients had already died.

The CDC has said that though cases of the disease have been linked to certain types of jobs, there is no published data about the association between dentists and International Monetary Fund.

Health officials are trying to figure out why dentists are dying after discovering a odd pattern in cases of a lung disease.

One questionnaire given to a living IPF patient before he died revealed that he cleaned and polished dental equipment and prepared amalgams and impressions without respiratory protection, the CDC study reported. "Substances used during these tasks contained ... known or potential respiratory toxicity". Younger dentists are taught differently than in the past, so they know to delegate certain work or procedures to laboratories that meet more safe and stringent ventilation requirements, he said. Though the reason for illness has not been identified, occupational exposures are possible, Nett and his colleagues wrote. Though the agency has mentioned that dentists and dental personnel are exposed to ionizing radiation, airborne particulates, chemicals, infectious agents and other likely hazardous materials.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is part of the larger family of interstitial lung diseases. The word idiopathic refers to the fact that we do not know the causes of this disease.

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Dentists experience inhalation exposures that can elevate their risk toward some respiratory diseases related to occupation.

When there is no visible cause for this scarring, the condition is idiopathic. Experts still do not have a full understanding of what causes the disease, and it kills many patients between three and five years after they are diagnosed.

All the cluster patients - eight dentists and one dental technician - were men, with an average age of 64.

IPF symptoms include difficulty breathing, dry cough, chronic cough, weight loss, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, fingers or toes, reported Newsweek. The chief policy officer of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says the report is "not surprising", especially because the IPF patients were older and may not have been using modern practices and protections.

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