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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
June 19, 2002

Respiratory Illness in Workers Exposed to Metalworking Fluid Contaminated With Nontuberculous Mycobacteria—Ohio, 2001

JAMA. 2002;287(23):3073-3074. doi:10.1001/jama.287.23.3073-JWR0619-2-1

MMWR. 2002;51:349-352

1 table omitted

In January 2001, three machinists at an automobile brake manufacturing facility in Ohio (plant A) were hospitalized with respiratory illness characterized by dyspnea, cough, fatigue, weight loss, hypoxia, and pulmonary infiltrates. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) was diagnosed in all three workers. In March 2001, additional employees began seeking medical attention for respiratory and systemic symptoms. In May 2001, union and management representatives requested assistance from CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in determining the cause of the illnesses and preventing further illness in employees. This report describes two case reports and the preliminary results of the ongoing investigation, which found that exposure to aerosolized nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) might be contributing to the observed respiratory illnesses in this manufacturing facility. Clinicians and public health professionals should be alert to the variable presentation of occupational respiratory disease that might occur in workers in the machining industry.

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