Cheese workers' lung

Last revised by Dr Bruno Di Muzio on 12 Sep 2020

Cheese workers' lung is a rare hypersensitivity pneumonitis due to the exposure of certain Penicillium species seen in people who work with mouldy cheese.

Clinical presentation

It can present as an acute pulmonary illness with fever and dyspnea. Clinical features are consistent with other forms of hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

People who make or wash mouldy cheeses regularly are at risk and the disease often resolves when the allergen is removed from the environment. Cheese workers are also at risk of occupational asthma, due to exposure to the enzymes used.

Pathology

Several Penicillium species have been proven to cause lymphocytic alveolitis, evident on broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) analysis.

Radiographic features

Often chest radiograph is normal.

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