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Progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after multiple episodes of an occupational inhalation fever.
Kales SN; Christiani DC
J Occup Med 1994 Jan; 36(1):75-78
A case of marked progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after several episodes of occupational inhalation fever in a carding machine operator was reported. The patient was a 45 year old male with a history of exertional dyspnea who experienced recurrent episodes of flu like symptoms beginning 2 weeks after starting work at a synthetic textile plant. After approximately 9 months on the job the patient was hospitalized with fever, chills, chest pain, productive cough, and malaise that had not responded to antibiotic treatment. A decreased white cell count was seen along with evidence of moderately severe obstructive disease. The patient returned to work after the acute symptoms resolved; however, he experienced dyspnea with mild exertion at this time. The flu like illnesses continued to recur over the next 18 months at which time the patient stopped working on the advice of his physician. He was hospitalized 1 month later with chest pain and diaphoresis. Severe obstruction with a significant bronchodilator response was seen and he was placed on disability leave. Polymer fume fever due to exposure to polytetrafluoroethylene (9002840) was suspected as the cause of his illness. A subsequent examination of the patient's workplace demonstrated that major renovations had been done since his departure to improve chemical contamination and air quality; however, potential for significant exposures to formaldehyde (50000) were still evident. The authors conclude that polymer fume fever may not always be a benign, self limiting disease and may result in permanent airways damage. Long term follow up is recommended.
JOCMA7; NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Grant; Training; Polymer-fumes; Polymer-fume-fever; Occupational-exposure; Pulmonary-disorders; Textile-workers; Respiratory-system-disorders; Fluorinated-hydrocarbons; Case-studies
Physiology Department, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
Issue of Publication
Journal of Occupational Medicine
Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
Page last reviewed: September 25, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division