Seven of the patients were dead, and two more were dying of a rare chronic, progressive lung disease that can be treated but not cured.

But the common denominator of a small group of patients at a Virginia clinic over a 15-year period is worrying the Centers for Disease Control: Eight were dentists; a ninth was a dental technician.

IPF causes scarring of the lungs, according to the report. It can be slowed, but nothing can remove the scar tissue. Over time, the lungs have difficulty getting oxygen to vital organs like the heart and brain.

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