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Forum topic by dustproblems posted 01-06-2013 10:21 AM 1594 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2207 days

01-06-2013 10:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: woodworker dust

I have a problem and need help. My 16 year old daughter took a wood working class for 6 weeks. She turned butternut wood that had fungus in it. She has since developed pneumonia. Doctors at first thought it was bacterial pneumonia but then decided it was fungal pneumonia. She was treated with 4 rounds of antibiotics and then anti-fungal medication. None have helped. Today all of the fungal pneumonia tests came back negative. She has no diagnosis and plenty of symptoms. She has severe night sweats, low grade fevers, trouble breathing, severe lack of energy or ability to get around anymore. She has been out of school almost a month. She is really sick. Doctors haven’t been able to diagnosis a specific illness hence unable to find a treatment. The class may have nothing to do with her illness, we don’t know. Any suggestions?

12 replies so far

View Chris208's profile


240 posts in 2509 days

#1 posted 01-06-2013 02:38 PM

How do you know it was from the butter nut? Could it have been caused by something else?

View dustproblems's profile


4 posts in 2207 days

#2 posted 01-06-2013 02:43 PM

It may have been caused from something else but the wood working was the only new thing she has done recently. I am wondering if it was the wood dust. Perhaps it got into her lungs and now there is a massive infection in there. If anyone has suggestions as to treatments that have helped we are open to anything. It may be her lung infection has absolutely nothing to do with taking the wood working class. We are exploring all options.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30151 posts in 2577 days

#3 posted 01-06-2013 02:58 PM

Prayers go to her and the family. My guess is a weakness in her lungs that may have been triggered by something in the environment. May or may not have been wood dust. As an employee of a hospital for 33 years, i will say that I am sure the medical group is working hard on this. Not only for your daughter, but this kind of case raises an automatic red flag that it might have come from a school environment.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View dhazelton's profile


2805 posts in 2535 days

#4 posted 01-06-2013 03:03 PM

I turned a piece of spalted maple and next day had flu-like symptoms, so I need to get an air handler for my garage. When she gets better and if she wants to go back to woodworking I’d look at getting her some quality HEPA dust masks at a minimum. Hope she gets better soon….

View Manitario's profile


2704 posts in 3122 days

#5 posted 01-06-2013 03:04 PM

I’m an ER doc, I’ll try and help but I’ll need a bit more information.
-What “fungal pneumonia” tests did they do?
-Is there still evidence of infection on the chest x-ray?
-Has she had bronchoscopy done (where they look into her lungs with a camera)?
-What anti-fungal medication did they use?
-How long have the symptoms been going on for?

Depending on what part of the country you live in there are a number of different fungal infections that can cause symptoms like this eg. Blastomycosis, Histoplamosis, Coccidioidomycosis etc. Feel free to PM me.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View dustproblems's profile


4 posts in 2207 days

#6 posted 01-06-2013 03:17 PM

All fungal pneumonia tests have been negative at this point. They tested for Blastomycosis, Histoplamosis and several others. We live in the Northeast but travel a good deal, though nothing notable in the last 18 months. They did a Bronchoscopy and got a sample from her lungs and tested it. They were sure that would turn up positive for Blastomycosis. After waiting several weeks, it came up negative. The Doctors thought because she had worked on a farm this past summer that the fungal pneumonia was a very real possibility. Her chest x-ray from yesterday showed the same infection in her right lung as a month ago even though she has received treatment for fungal pneumonia. She had IV Amphoteracin and is currently on Intraconazole. The Doctors had made a decision that the fungal pneumonia would probably be the diagnosis and didn’t want to wait to treat her until results were back so began all of her treatment pending the results from the bronchoscopy samples. She has been sick since early November. I think they are talking about doing another bronchoscopy to get lung tissue this time. Too bad it wasn’t obtained the first time. Very frustrating. Thanks for your thoughts and help. Her wood working class may have absolutely nothing to do with this illness, we are grasping at straws at this point.

View FeralVermonter's profile


100 posts in 2210 days

#7 posted 01-06-2013 03:31 PM

So sorry to hear it!

I’m no doctor… actually I’m a chef (so that should explain the following)

I don’t know if it would cure her, but changing her diet could certainly help her in the fight. There’s several foods and herbs that have antifungal properties. I’m thinking garlic and dandelion greens in particular–raw is better. If you have horsetail in your area (a nasty weed from the dawn of time) it has some serious antifungal properties–I make a tea of it and use it as a spray in my greenhouse, and it’s the strongest antifungal that I have ever found—stronger than commercial sprays that you can’t ingest (you can also find it prepared for tea, or in tinctures).

Another suggestion: clean her room daily, and very thoroughly. If she’s got spores in her lungs, chances are she’s breathing them out, and reinfecting herself. When we get sick at my house, we clean the sheets every day, and mist with lavender (also has antimicrobial properties, though I’m still a little skeptical that it does much but make the sick room smell nice-and supposedly high spirits help you fight infection).

Like I said, I don’t know if anything I mentioned would help. But I know how horrible it can be to have a loved one sick, and not know what to do about it. At the very least, none of this stuff can hurt. Heart going out to you and yours.

If you’re interested in trying this route, message me and I’ll put in a few hours with my plant books, try to find more options.

View Manitario's profile


2704 posts in 3122 days

#8 posted 01-06-2013 07:26 PM

It sounds like the doctors involved in her care have been very thorough so far. It sounds from her symptoms and the length of time that it’s fungal…could have been from the wood, but just as likely from the environment. I would have suggested a bronch and ampho B but she’s already had it. I live in northwestern Ontario and anyone we see with a persistant pneumonia has blasto until proven otherwise. I agree, if she still has pneumonia on her CXR she probably needs another bronchoscopy and a tissue biopsy. Best of luck, let me know if I can be of any use to you.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View djg's profile


160 posts in 2401 days

#9 posted 01-06-2013 09:30 PM

I am not a doctor (of medicine at least) but have an in depth understanding of dust, dust dynamics, migration, collection, and the long term after effects of exposure etc. Although I have no recommendations about her treatment, I will say that this is the kind of thing that often gets looked over on the education side of woodworking which is very unfortunate. I have seen several high school woodworking classrooms that I wouldn’t consider walking into only because I understand the dangers more than the average person. I am not sure of the situation surrounding her exposure but it sounds like her lungs may have seen some exposure which could have been prevented with the right protective equipment. I hope she gets better soon. This sounds horrible as an outsider and I am sure being in the situation yourself must be horrifying. If she decides to further explore her interests in woodworking ensure that she is wearing a N100/P100 mask that has been properly fitted and tested to prevent this type of exposure. Many people are sensitive to hardwoods. Some more than others. The compounds contained in them (many different types of oils, and resins, fibers) can get deep in the lungs and lead to both short and long term health problems. My understanding is that the exposure itself can lead to further sensitization.

-- DJG

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2427 days

#10 posted 01-07-2013 04:22 AM

It may be a very unfortunate matching of a person with a specific sensitivity to a specific allergen/toxin or whatever they are called. I was recently in a class where we made baskets from Western Red Cedar. One person reacted badly to the cedar and missed a month or more of school; the rest of us were completely unaffected.

Also, it seems to me that the fungus in the butternut, while obviously suspect, may not be the root cause.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2487 days

#11 posted 01-07-2013 03:31 PM

My wife spent a week and a return visit for 3 days in the Hospital after turning bloodwood without a respirator. She had symptoms early on and her doctor did the same (antiboitics). Nothing helped and she got ambulance ride bad (O2 sats were around 80 when she got to the ER). After some x-rays, a bronchoscopy, and a profusion scan, she was diagnosed with pneomonitis and also had a Pneumothorax in her right lung. She was on strong IV antibiotics, IV steroids, and a lot of respiratory medicine and therapy. To this day she still has some issues and takes a steroid inhaler.

We now both have properly fitted respirators.


View dustproblems's profile


4 posts in 2207 days

#12 posted 01-08-2013 02:52 PM

Thank you all for your touching thoughts and your input into this situation. My daughter was hospitalized again last night and we will consider everything. We will talk to her doctors today about all of the wonderful ideas. Thanks again.

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