CDC Finds Lung Disease Cluster among Dental Workers at Va. Clinic
Between 2000 and 2015, a health clinic in Virginia treated eight dentists and one dental technician for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic, progressive lung disease whose origin is unknown, according to the March 9 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This is the first time that a cluster of IPF cases has been identified among dental workers. The clinic treated 894 total patients for IPF during 2000–2015. At the time of CDC’s investigation in April 2016, all but two of the dental workers were deceased. One of the living patients reported polishing dental appliances and preparing amalgams and impressions without respiratory protection, which could have exposed the patient to silica, polyvinyl siloxane, alginate, and other compounds with known or potential respiratory toxicity. The patient had worked in dentistry for forty years. The MMWR report is available from the CDC website. See “By the Numbers” for more information.