Last Sunday, several people who usually greet me with hugs and handshakes at church simply waved me away. I protested: “I showered before coming here!”
The typical comeback was, “I have some kind of terrible cold or flu! Don’t catch it from me!”
Every fall here in northeast Iowa, outbreaks of respiratory complaints surge just as the soybean harvest begins. Respiratory clinics across the Midwest typically see a surge in complaints. This fall, fungus in the field is more prevalent than usual — note the media comments about stalk rot in corn and rapid die-down of crops.
There’s even a medical term for the hacking cough and flu-like symptoms from harvest molds: “Farmer’s Lung.”
Since we first published this item Sept. 22, we’ve heard from several people in this community that “This fall, we’ve seen the worst outbreak of respiratory problems ever.” The number of “hits” on this article is about twice that of any other, so our farmer readers might be looking for answers, too.
The University of Wisconsin extension service offers a list of helpful advice about staying healthy through harvest. Check out this link.
Our longtime friend Howard Vlieger of Maurice, northwest Iowa, pulled together a detailed analysis of this issue — way back in 2011. It’s posted on the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance website.
Howard says, “Over in this corner of the state, the respiratory problems for people are already manifesting themselves this season.”
Fortunately for farmers, modern combines and tractors have quite helpful filtration systems in their cabs. We encourage — take full advantage of all the protection you can get from harvest haze and dust. It’s not just the dust and mold, it’s the mycotoxins generated by the fungal organisms that get to you. And stay with you.
Published Sept. 23, 2015 by Jerry Carlson
Updated Sept. 30