Researches Identify New Rare Occupational Disease

Researches Identify New Rare Occupational Disease

Welder’s anthrax was found among seven metalworkers from 1994 to 2020.

Researchers have identified a new rare occupational disease called welder’s anthrax that affects metalworkers.

According to a CDC blog and the report, researchers at NIOSH and the CDC’s Bacterial Special Pathogens Branch identified seven cases of severe pneumonia in metalworkers from 1994 to 2020 that shared a similar trait. This specific type of pneumonia was “caused by bacteria within the B. cereus group that produces anthrax toxin.”

According to the blog, five out of seven of the people studied died. Many of the cases shared similar symptoms, including fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath and coughing up blood. They received “broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment,” and one of the two people who survived received an anthrax antitoxin.

Data on work demographics was limited. However, of the two people diagnosed in 2020, per the blog, it was known that one person worked on A36 mil carbon steel on an oil tank roof using a shielded metal arc welding process, and the other worked on low-carbon mild steel in a wood fabrication shop using Metal Inert Gas.

The seven cases' demographics included six men and one woman, six people who were welders and one who was a metalworker, a median age of 39 and four people who worked in Texas and three in Louisiana.

Learning more about worksite dangers can help employers prevent worker injury and death. To learn more about welder’s anthrax and prevention, read the report.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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