This figure represents 1% of the total IPF patients in the country, while only around 0.038% of people in the United States practice dentistry as a profession, the CDC reports.
Seven of the patients were dead, and two more were dying of a rare chronic, progressive lung disease that can be treated but not cured.
A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that dentists mysteriously die of fatal lung diseases than that of the general population in a Virginia Hospital over the last two decades.
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. Something in their workplace environment may have been poisoning them, investigators said, although they don't know what.
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Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic, progressive lung disease where the tissue of the lungs becomes thick and scarred over time, which makes it more hard for the lungs to move oxygen into the bloodstream to supply the brain and other organs.
So far, health officials have identified nine dentists or dental workers who were diagnosed with the disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, all of whom were treated at the same specialty clinic in Virginia, according to the report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Investigators dug deeper, poring over almost 900 records of IPF patients at that clinic over a 21-year period and found the nine patients with the common work history. Doctors are still unsure of what causes the disease, which kills patients between three and five years after diagnosis.
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IPF symptoms include difficulty breathing, dry cough, chronic cough, weight loss, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, fingers or toes, reported Newsweek.
The investigation took place after a dentist, who was diagnosed with IPF, reported the alarming pattern found at the Virginia Care Center to the CDC. Casamassimo noted that the cluster patients were all older so they were probably not abreast with current safety and personal protection practices. During the past 20 years, he started wearing a surgical mask, which still may have been inadequate. But that's still a strikingly high rate - it's 23 times higher than what would be expected based on the number of dentists in the USA population.
Even though CDC investigators have not figured out what, specifically, caused IPF in the patients, the study's release may still do some good. "Younger dentists are taught differently than in the past, so they know to delegate certain work or procedures to laboratories that meet more safe and stringent ventilation requirements".
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