Cases reported "Occupational Diseases"

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1/109. Chronic toxic encephalopathy in a painter exposed to mixed solvents.

    This paper describes symptoms and findings in a 57-year-old painter who had been exposed to various organic solvents for over 30 years. He began to work as a painter at 16 years of age, frequently working in poorly ventilated areas; he used solvents to remove paint from the skin of his arms and hands at the end of each work shift. The patient and his family noticed impaired short-term memory function and changes in affect in his early forties, which progressed until after he stopped working and was thus no longer exposed to paints and solvents. After the patient's exposures had ended, serial neuropsychological testing revealed persistent cognitive deficits without evidence of further progression, and improvement in some domains. magnetic resonance imaging revealed global and symmetrical volume loss, involving more white than gray matter. The findings in this patient are consistent with chronic toxic encephalopathy and are differentiated from other dementing processes such as Alzheimer's disease, multi-infarct (vascular) dementia, and alcoholic dementia. Previous descriptions in the literature of persistent neurobehavioral effects associated with chronic exposure to organic solvents corroborate the findings in this case.
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2/109. Gz associated stenosis of the cervical spinal canal in fighter pilots.

    Previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have shown that repeated exposure to Gz forces can cause premature degenerative changes of the cervical spine (i.e. a work-related disease). This paper reports on two clinical cases of Gz-associated degenerative cervical spinal stenosis caused by dorsal osteophytes in fighter pilots. Conventional x-rays and MRI were used to demonstrate narrowing of the cervical spinal canal. The first case was complicated by a C6-7 intervertebral disk prolapse and a congenitally narrow spinal canal. The second case involved progressive degenerative spinal stenosis in the C5-6 disk space which required surgery. The findings in this case were confirmed by surgery which showed posterior osteophytes and thickened ligaments compressing the cervical medulla. These two cases suggest that Gz forces can cause degenerative spinal stenosis of the cervical spine. Flight safety may be jeopardized if symptoms and signs of medullar compression occur during high Gz stress. It is recommended that student fighter pilots undergo conventional x-rays and MRI studies in order to screen out and reject candidates with a congenitally narrow spinal canal. These examination methods might be useful in fighter pilots' periodic medical check-ups in order to reveal acquired degenerative spinal stenosis.
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3/109. Acute respiratory distress syndrome in a welder exposed to metal fumes.

    A 43-year-old man began having malaise, chills, and fever 12 hours after cutting a galvanized steel grating with an acetylene torch at work. Over the next 72 hours, his symptoms persisted and became worse with progressive shortness of breath. He was admitted to the hospital and begun on antibiotics and steroids. The next day his condition had deteriorated to the point that he had to be intubated. Chest x-ray film and computed tomography showed patchy and interstitial infiltration bilaterally, consistent with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Open lung biopsy showed focal mild interstitial pneumonia. Multiple laboratory studies were negative for an infectious or an immune process. The patient remained on mechanical ventilation for 10 days and was discharged from the hospital 2 days after extubation. He continued to improve, with minimal symptoms and a return to normal activity levels several months after the incident with no continued treatment. Re-creation of his exposure was done under controlled circumstances, with air sampling revealing elevated air levels for cadmium and zinc and borderline levels of arsenic, manganese, lead, and iron.
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4/109. Occupational asthma and contact dermatitis in a spray painter after introduction of an aziridine cross-linker.

    A 23-year-old spray painter developed contact dermatitis and respiratory difficulty characterized by small airways obstruction shortly after the polyfunctional aziridine cross-linker CX-100 began to be used in his workplace as a paint activator. The symptoms resolved after he was removed from the workplace and was treated with inhaled and topical steroids. Painters may have an increased risk of asthma due to exposure to a variety of agents, such as isocyanates, alkyd resins, and chromates. This case illustrates the importance of using appropriate work practices and personal protective equipment to minimize exposure. Occupational asthma is diagnosed by a history of work-related symptoms and exposure to known causative agents. The diagnosis is confirmed by serial pulmonary function testing or inhalational challenge testing. The risk of asthma attributable to occupational exposures is probably underappreciated due to underreporting and to inappropriate use of narrow definitions of exposure in epidemiologic studies of attributable risk.
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5/109. Cerebral arterial gas embolism in air force ground maintenance crew--a report of two cases.

    Two cases of cerebral arterial gas embolism (CAGE) occurred after a decompression incident involving five maintenance crew during a cabin leakage system test of a Hercules C-130 aircraft. During the incident, the cabin pressure increased to 8 in Hg (203.2 mm Hg, 27 kPa) above atmospheric pressure causing intense pain in the ears of all the crew inside. The system was rapidly depressurized to ground level. After the incident, one of the crew reported chest discomfort and fatigue. The next morning, he developed a sensation of numbness in the left hand, with persistence of the earlier symptoms. A second crewmember, who only experienced earache and heaviness in the head after the incident, developed retrosternal chest discomfort, restlessness, fatigue and numbness in his left hand the next morning. Both were subsequently referred to a recompression facility 4 d after the incident. Examination by the diving Medical Officer on duty recorded left-sided hemianesthesia and Grade II middle ear barotrauma as the only abnormalities in both cases. Chest x-rays did not reveal any extra-alveolar gas. Diagnoses of Static Neurological decompression Illness were made and both patients recompressed on a RN 62 table. The first case recovered fully after two treatments, and the second case after one treatment. magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and bubble contrast echocardiography performed on the first case 6 mo after the incident were reported to be normal. The second case was lost to follow-up. decompression illness (DCI) generally occurs in occupational groups such as compressed air workers, divers, aviators, and astronauts. This is believed to be the first report of DCI occurring among aircraft's ground maintenance crew.
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6/109. Aerobiological analysis in a salami factory: a possible case of extrinsic allergic alveolitis by penicillium camembertii.

    A 39-year-old man was hospitalized with a history of fatigue, dyspnoea and low grade fever which seemed to be related to his working environment. The patient was employed in a salami factory, working near the area where the salami are seasoned with fungal inocula. Chest X-ray showed diffuse initial changes of reticulonodular pattern that disappeared after a brief course of steroids therapy. Precipitating antibodies to penicillium notatum and aspergillus fumigatus were found both in plasma and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. This, together with the finding of a lymphocytic alveolitis with CD4 depletion and CD8 increase, suggested the possibility of extrinsic allergic alveolitis of fungal aetiology. Qualitative and quantitative monitoring with an impinger of both the working and outside environment for aerial fungal concentration demonstrated a very high level of contamination (up to 1.14x10(9) fungal propagules m-3 of air) and an inside/outside ratio from 21 to about 2000. penicillium camembertii was the most common species found in all the indoor sites (60-100% of the fungal load). The patient's BALF and serum both displayed precipitating antibodies to P. camembertii from the powder used for the inoculum and the air samples. These results together with the patient's working history gave some evidence of relationship between the indoor P. camembertii concentration and the patient's symptoms.
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7/109. tuberculosis on the flight deck.

    tuberculosis in commercial aircraft has been a concern since a 1995 incident of possible transmission from an active case of tuberculosis to passengers in the cabin of a 747. Subsequently, commercial air carriers have been vigilant in cooperating with public health authorities in tracking all known exposures to tuberculosis. In 1998, a pilot of a commercial airliner was diagnosed with active tuberculosis. Company records demonstrated that in the previous 6 mo, the pilot had flown with 48 other pilots. Every exposed pilot was contacted and evaluated by skin testing (IPPD) or chest x-ray if previously positive. There were no skin test conversions and no changes on x-rays. This study demonstrates that transmission of tuberculosis in the aircraft cabin environment, even under close and continuous exposure to an active case, is a rare event.
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8/109. asthma due to inhaled chemical agents--the macrolide antibiotic spiramycin.

    One year after starting work in the pharmaceutical industry a 35-year-old non-atopic maintenance engineer developed attacks of sneezing, coughing and breathlessness. These occurred at home during the evening and early morning, never at work during the day. His employment involved contact with a wide variety of chemical agents including the macrolide antibiotic spiramycin. inhalation challenge tests carried out in hospital with gradually increasing quantities of spiramycin reproduced his symptoms and led to the development of late asthmatic reactions, during which the FEV1 fell by 25% and the FEV1/FVC ratio by 15%. No change occurred in the single breath CO transfer factor nor were crepitations heard over the lung fields which remained normal on chest X-ray. The patient showed positive immediate skin prick tests to spiramycin and developed blood eosinophilia during the late asthma attacks. inhalation of sodium cromoglycate either before, or before and hourly after the provocation challenge for 6 hr, failed to prevent the late asthma, although its onset was further delayed. On leaving the pharmaceutical industry the patient's symptoms improved but did not finally clear until his wife, who had worked in a clerical capacity in the same factory also ceased her employment.
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9/109. An unusual cause of recurrent abdominal pain.

    abdominal pain is a common complaint with diverse etiologies. We describe an unusual case of recurrent abdominal pain in an adult due to lead poisoning, a condition usually associated with childhood. A previously healthy 42-yr-old man presented with 2 days of severe crampy abdominal pain and a 1-month history of constipation. physical examination was remarkable for diffuse abdominal pain but peritoneal signs were not present. blood tests were remarkable for hematocrit of 33 and mean cell volume of 78, with ovalocytes and basophilic stippling on blood smear. Abdominal x-ray showed stool throughout the colon and a nonspecific bowel gas pattern. The patient was treated with intravenous fluids and enemas, and his symptoms resolved within 2 days. Repeat history taking revealed he had been stripping paint from an old Victorian house in the preceding few months. He was discharged after a blood lead level was obtained. Before his clinic appointment he was readmitted 2 days later with recurrent abdominal pain. His blood lead level was elevated at 110 microg/dl (toxic range). After consultation with the occupational health and safety Administration and local poison control service, he was treated with intravenous calcium edetate disodium and intramuscular dimercaprol. He was asymptomatic at discharge, with a level of 56 microg/dl. Two weeks later, a repeat level was elevated at 72 microg/dl, for which he received a 3-wk course of oral dimercaptosuccimer. Subsequent levels were unremarkable, and the patient remains asymptomatic. abdominal pain secondary to lead poisoning in adults is uncommon. This case highlights the importance of taking a detailed occupational history and appropriately using "routine" blood tests to diagnose a rare condition that presented with a common complaint.
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10/109. Two year follow-up of a garbage collector with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA).

    BACKGROUND: Separate collection of biodegradable garbage and recyclable waste is expected to become mandatory in some western countries. A growing number of persons engaged in garbage collection and separation might become endangered by high loads of bacteria and fungi. Case history and examination A 29 year old garbage collector involved in emptying so-called biological garbage complained of dyspnea, fever, and flu-like symptoms during work beginning in the summer of 1992. Chest x-ray showed streaky shadows near both hili reaching into the upper regions. IgE- and IgG-antibodies (CAP, Pharmacia, sweden) were strongly positive for aspergillus fumigatus with 90.5 kU/L and 186%, respectively. Total-IgE was also strongly elevated with 5430 kU/L. Bronchial challenge testing with commercially available aspergillus fumigatus extract resulted in an immediate-type asthmatic reaction. Two years later he was still symptomatic and antibodies persisted at lower levels. CONCLUSIONS: Our diagnosis was allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) including asthmatic responses as well as hypersensitivity pneumonitis (extrinsic allergic alveolitis) due to exposure to moldy household waste. A growing number of persons engaged in garbage collection and handling are exposed and at risk to develop sensitization to fungi due to exposure to dust of biodegradable waste. Further studies are necessary to show if separate collection of biodegradable waste increases the health risks due to exposure to bacteria and fungi in comparison to waste collection without separation.
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