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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Histoplasmosis Outbreak Associated with the Renovation of an Old House

Jean-Luc Grenier MD
Quebec, Canada, 2013
Employers need to provide the appropriate protective equipment and reinforce the necessity of applying protective measures during demolition work, including when handling debris away from work site.
Histoplasmosis is an infrequent respiratory disease caused by inhalation of a fungus spores. Bats and birds can excrete the organism in their droppings and it persists in the environment for several years. Outbreaks can occur when demolition work produces dust containing bird or bat droppings. During the renovation of an old house,
30 workers and residents were exposed to dust from bird or bat droppings previously hidden in the brick walls. 14 of them developed symptoms of histoplasmosis.  Of the four who were laboratory-confirmed, two were hospitalized. There was a strong link between illness and high exposure to dust during demolition of the exterior walls, but also with the handling of contaminated debris away from the work site.

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