Medicine

Lung Disease Killing Dentists in Mysterious Cluster, CDC Report Says

Lung Disease Killing Dentists in Mysterious Cluster, CDC Report Says

But the common denominator of a small group of patients at a Virginia clinic over a 15-year period is worrying the Centers for Disease Control: Eight were dentists; a ninth was a dental technician.

In April, 2016, a Virginia dentist who had just been diagnosed with IPF and was undergoing treatment at a specialty clinic called the CDC with a warning: Several other dental professionals had sought treatment at the same facility. "Although no clear etiologies for this cluster exist, occupational exposures possibly contributed".

While that does not sound like a lot, it represents 1 percent of the total IPF patients.

The man told the CDC that during his dental career, he had polished dental appliances and prepared dental impressions without a wearing a mask. Although the dentists only represented 1 percent of the number with the disease, only 0.038 percent of people in the US are dentists. "Substances used during these tasks contained...known or potential respiratory toxicity".

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. Furthermore, according to the CDC "although IPF has been associated with certain occupations, no published data exist regarding IPF in dentists".

They all had been diagnosed with what is described as a progressive illness affecting the lungs, but nobody knows what brings the disease on.

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Nett concluded: 'At this time, we do not know what caused this cluster of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis cases in dental personnel'. Dental personnel are exposed to infectious agents, chemicals, airborne particulates, ionizing radiation and other potentially hazardous materials.

Although the disease has been linked with certain jobs that involve exposure to dust, wood dust and metal dust, the new report marks the first time that researchers have found a connection between the disease and being a dental worker. This thicker lung tissue prevents oxygen from properly getting into the blood, meaning organs such as the brain and the heart don't get a sufficient supply. Many IPF patients die within three to five years of the diagnosis.

There appears to be no recognizable cause for the cases with the dentists. The cause of IPF is unknown, but the study found occupational hazards faced by dentists could play a role.

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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