CDC: Mystery Cluster of Dead Dentists
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.
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.
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?