Outbreak of hypersensitivity pneumonitis among mushroom farm workers

Wayne Sanderson, Gregory Kullman, Joaquin Sastre, Stephen Olenchock, Alvaro O'Campo, Karl Musgrave, Francis Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Between April 1982 and August 1985, seven cases of mushroom worker's lung (MWL), a form of hypersensitivity pneumonitis, were diagnosed among workers at one mushroom farm in Florida. The cases suffered from episodic shortness of breath, cough, fever and chills, myalgia, malaise, and difficulty breathing. Pulmonary function testing revealed restrictive ventilatory impairment and reduced diffusing capacity; chest radiographs exhibited diffuse interstitial pulmonary infiltrates. The seven cases occurred among workers from different farm operations, suggesting that workers throughout the farm were exposed to the disease causing agent(s). Six of the affected workers left employment at the farm in order to remain free of symptoms. The other affected worker was able to continue working at the farm, but only by remaining in a maintenance shop which was physically separated from the rest of the farm facilities. An industrial hygiene survey demonstrated that farm workers from every work area were exposed to organic dust constituents suspected of causing MWL, but no specific antigens were identified as the cause of the cases. Of the remaining workers who participated in a cross‐sectional respiratory morbidity survey at the farm, approximately 20% of the more heavily exposed workers reported occasionally experiencing symptoms consistent with MWL. Approximately 10% of the workers had below normal spirometry test results, but interpretation was hampered by the diverse racial makeup of the population and lack of an adequate comparison group. No abnormalities consistent with either acute or chronic MWL were seen on the chest radiographs. Serologic tests demonstrated that almost all workers had been exposed to antigens capable of causing MWL, but the results were not associated with health status. At the time of the cross‐sectional survey, no workers were found to be suffering acute respiratory problems consistent with MWL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-872
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Volume22
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1992

Keywords

  • mushroom workers
  • organic dust
  • respiratory disease
  • serum precipitins
  • spirometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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