Organic dust toxic syndrome: an acute febrile reaction to organic dust exposure distinct from hypersensitivity pneumonitis

J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1990;28(4):389-420. doi: 10.3109/15563659009038584.


Organic dust toxic syndrome is a term recently coined to describe a noninfectious, febrile illness associated with chills, malaise, myalgia, a dry cough, dyspnea, headache and nausea which occurs after heavy organic dust exposure. Organic dust toxic syndrome shares many clinical features with acute farmer's lung and other forms of hypersensitivity pneumonitis, including the presence of increased numbers of neutrophils in bronchoalveolar lavage. However, organic dust toxic syndrome differs from acute hypersensitivity pneumonitis in several respects: the chest X-ray does not show infiltrates, severe hypoxemia does not occur, prior sensitization to antigens in the organic dust is not required and there are no known sequelae of physiological significance, such as the recurrent attacks and the pulmonary fibrosis which may be seen with chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Organic dust toxic syndrome is thought to be much more common than farmer's lung. It is important for clinical and investigational purposes that organic dust toxic syndrome be distinguished from acute farmer's lung.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Farmer's Lung / diagnosis*
  • Fever / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Syndrome


  • Dust