Question - What is the so-called “organic dust toxic syndrome”?
Answer: The cited reference notes “Organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS) has been reported among workers in a variety of agricultural and industrial settings and is thought to involve inhalation exposure to materials with heavy microbial contamination. Etiologic exposures that cause ODTS are often a poorly defined mixture of substances, including fungi, bacteria, and microbial constituents such as endotoxin. ODTS is characterized by fever and influenza-like symptoms, including general weakness, headache, chills, body aches, and cough occurring 4--12 hours after heavy exposure to organic dust. Dyspnea also is sometimes present. Results of chest auscultation and chest radiographs are usually normal. The peripheral white blood count is often elevated during attacks. Accurate patient history is critical for making a correct diagnosis. Although the symptoms resemble those of acute HP, they are not caused by response of the immune system to a specific antigen in the environment. ODTS poses a risk for workers performing renovation work on building materials and is a realistic concern for workers handling heavily contaminated materials in the aftermath of major hurricanes or floods. ODTS is best prevented by minimizing exposure through engineering controls, administrative controls, and respirators.” (Brandt M et al. Mold prevention strategies and possible health effects n the aftermath of hurricanes and floods. June 9, 2006 MMWR. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5508a1.htm)