Metal fume fever (MFF) is an important occupational-related illness resulting from inhalation of volatile metal oxides, especially zinc, that are produced during welding or cutting of metal materials. Onset of MFF is rapid, occurring within a few hours after inhalation of the fumes. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, dyspnea, headache, myalgia, and malaise. Symptoms are self-limiting and typically resolve within 24 hours with a subsequent short-lived tolerance to zinc oxide fumes that disappears after one to two days of avoidance. In this report, we present an overview of MFF's history, pathogenesis, clinical presentation, regulatory guidelines, and prevention recommendations. This review is followed by a description of MFF cases reported by the Louisiana Poison Control Center to the Louisiana Office of Public Health's Section of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology during a two-year period.
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