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Re: Books and disease.


        I know from a course in occupational disease a number of years ago (I won't
say how many) that there is a disease called "Bookbinders Disease". It is
really a grouping of lung infections, primarily caused by the various fungi
that may inhabit books. Some of these diseases are really quite nasty. Hard
to treat, debilatating and even deadly.

        This is why I always wear a good quality surgical mask when breaking down
all old books. It is amazing how much "dust" can come out of one. I clean up
well afterward (still wearing the mask). An important thing to remember is
that some of these infections take years to develop clinical symptoms.

        Fungi can actually grow and multiply in books and therefore can be a potent
agent of disease in books. TB would not do the same thing, though TB can
remain dormant in certain environments for a long time, a person would
probably have to be immunocompromised to pick up TB from a book.

        There are a number of other bacterial diseases that may be carried by a
book. But a diseased person would really have to put alot of something
(don't ask) from their body on the book to transmit it to another person.
The next person to handle the book would also have to handle it in a
relatively short period of time and not be cleanly in their habits.

        To my knowledge none of the other critters that live in books (Book worms
and their ilk) have caused disease in any significant number of people.

        To those that have to know:  this information comes from my former life as
a PhD in clinical microbiology and a DVM before I started bookbinding as an

Regards (or should I say "Be careful out there")

Kurt Klappenbach
Loud Creek Books & Bindery
P.O. Box 8120
Bangor, ME   04402-8120

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