Dentists keep dying from lung disease, CDC doesn't know why
The CDC can't figure out why dentists keep dying from IPF in Virginia.
VIRGINIA — Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are trying to figure out why dentists in Virginia have been dying of a rare form of lung disease.
The CDC has identified nine dentists or dental workers who were diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, all of whom were treated at the same specialty clinic in Virginia, the agency said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Of the nine cases, seven have died, the report said.
Around 200,000 people in the U.S. have IPF at any one time, according to the American Thoracic Society.
Citing a review in the journal Industrial Health, the CDC said that dental professionals were 23 times more likely to have IPF than the rest of the population.
IPF causes scarring of the lungs and can be treated, but not cured. Over time, sufferers have difficulty getting oxygen to the body's organs.
Doctors still don't know what causes IPF. Patients usually live three to five years after being diagnosed.
Signs of IPF include shortness of breath, a chronic and dry cough, weight loss, fatigue, joint and muscle pains and clubbed fingers or toes.
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