Investigation into source of fungal infections among U.P. paper mill workers continues
A number of public health agencies continue to search for the source of fungal infections among Escanaba paper mill workers. The fungus can cause a potentially serious infection called blastomycosis.
Blastomycosis is usually caused by breathing in fungus spores; it can cause serious symptoms and even be fatal. There are 19 confirmed cases of blastomycosis among workers at Billerud Escanaba Mill Operations, with 74 other probable cases. Union officials say some of the victims have been hospitalized.
The fungus grows in moist soil and decomposing wood and leaves. The Centers for Disease Control says infections are often associated with activities that disrupt soil such as construction or excavation, or recreational activities near lakes or rivers such as hunting, fishing, or camping.
National health agencies are assisting the public health department that serves Delta and Menominee counties. The owners of the mill say they're following those agencies' recommendations to protect the health and safety of mill employees, contractors and visitors.