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Farmer’s fever

Aspergillosis

Farmer’s fever, also called organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS), is caused by breathing in dust which contains moulds from spoiled plant materials. It is a common respiratory illness in farmers, particularly those working with grain, hay, silage and confined animals. The symptoms are a fever and flu-like symptoms which occur four to 12 hours after exposure to contaminated dust.

The symptoms of farmer’s fever usually disappear within one to three days after you are no longer exposed to the dust. ODTS is often misdiagnosed, so it is important to tell your doctor about any recent dust exposures you may have had.

References used for this topic page

More information:

Centers for Disease Control (US)
Preventing organic dust toxic syndrome [PDF 33kb]

Clinical care:

University of Missouri
Organic dust toxicity syndrome (ODTS or grain fever)

Research & reviews:

American Association of Swine Veterinarians
Organic dust toxic syndrome: a non-infectious febrile disease after exposure to the hog barn [PDF 453kb]

Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Respiratory illness in farmers (free PDF download)

Journal of Clinical Toxicology
Organic Toxic Dust Syndrome: A review

Fast facts:

Farmer’s fever

  • Organic dust toxic syndrome or farmer’s fever is caused by inhaling mouldy dust.
  • Farmer’s fever is a common respiratory illness in farmers.
  • Tell your doctor if you’ve been exposed to dust if you have flu-like symptoms.

Last updated: 19th February 2016