CDC: Mystery Cluster of Dead Dentists

dentist deaths

By Melinda Cafferty, Natural Blaze

The CDC is now taking notice that a significant number of dentists have  died in a relatively short period of time at one Virginia care center.

The fact that a significant number of deaths at the care center were from dental professions sparked suspicions.

CNN reports what is known so far on the dentist deaths:

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 Reportfrom the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of nine patients, referred to as a cluster, seven died during the reported 16-year period. The disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is a chronic, progressive lung disease with a poor prognosis. The cause is unknown.
A cluster is a term used to define a collection of cases “grouped in place and time that are suspected to be greater than the number expected,” Dr. Randall J. Nett, lead author of the study and medical officer with the US Public Health Service, explained in an email.
Out of 894 patients treated for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at the Virginia hospital, nine patients were pegged as dentists or dental techs. That may not seem like a high amount – only 1% – but that is “about 23 times higher than expected,” Nett said.
All of them were men, with an average age of 64. While the actual cause of this cluster hasn’t been identified yet, the hazards of the dental profession itself are definitely under suspect now. There are about 650,000 dental personnel throughout the nation.
From CNN:
One of the surviving cluster patients reported polishing dental appliances and preparing impressions without using a mask or other protection, according to the report. During these tasks, a dental worker would have been exposed to silica and other compounds with known or potential respiratory toxicity.
“At this time, we do not know what caused this cluster of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis cases in dental personnel,” said Nett, who recommended that workers “wear certified respiratory protection” if the ability to improve ventilation is not practical or effective.
“We do work with materials and with human bioproducts that are potentially damaging to our bodies if we inhale them,” said Dr. Paul Casamassimo, chief policy officer of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Pediatric Oral Health & Research Center, who wasn’t surprised by the report. He noted dust, drilling, toxicants and biohazards among the daily tasks of the profession.
The fact that the men were older points to an older immune system but also to outdated or “old school” practices. Casamassimo’s dental father died at age 79. He did not have the fibrosis, however, he did have respiratory problems. “This probably has been more common than we have known in the past,” he said.
While more detective work needs to be done, the “CDC will follow up on this newly recognized cluster,” Nett said.

Another question that should ring out in the minds of our readers – if these substances are posing such a threat to the dental profession that biohazmat gear may be required – what is it doing to the patients?

 

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