A case of mystery lung disease is killing dentists and other kinds of dental workers at a renowned medical center in Virginia, according to a recent CDC report. Nine dentists are now considered part of a cluster. Of those, seven died over the last 16 years.
All the dentists were diagnosed with the same condition – idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an aggressive type of lung disease whose cause remains unknown. Doctors explained that in medical speech a ‘cluster’ defines a group of patients diagnosed with the same condition at the same place and time in far greater numbers than it should be normal.
Of the nearly 900 patients diagnosed with the condition at the Virginia healthcare facility, 1 percent were dentists. Researchers estimate that the number is 23% times higher than it should be.
All dentists diagnosed with the condition were male. The median age was 64. The hospital couldn’t provide an explanation for the mystery condition. Occupational exposure may be the answer.
Dentists Routinely Exposed to Toxic Chemicals, Dust, and Microbes
An expert explained that dentists and dental technicians are exposed to harmful bacteria, radiation, gases, and viruses on a daily basis. These factors can significantly up their risk of respiratory disease.
One of the dentists that survived admitted to polishing instruments without a mask. Another cause may be exposure to silica which ups the risk of lung disease dramatically as well.
The Virginia facility was unable to tell the exact cause for the condition. It recommended its dental staff to wear masks and other protections at work. CDC has reportedly launched an investigation into the matter.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry commented on the news, saying that the report is not a surprise. Dentists usually get exposed to dust and plaster during drilling procedures. Also, there are a lot of toxic chemicals that can harm their lungs.
Image Source: Pxhere