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 will 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
Centers for Disease Control (US)
Preventing organic dust toxic syndrome [PDF 33kb]
University of Missouri
Organic dust toxicity syndrome (ODTS or grain fever)
Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety Organic Farm Dusts
Research & reviews:
American Association of Swine Veterinarians
Organic dust toxic syndrome: a non-infectious febrile disease after exposure to the hog barn [PDF 453kb]
Respiratory illness in farmers (free PDF download)
Journal of Clinical Toxicology
Organic Toxic Dust Syndrome: A review
Last updated: 6th February, 2019