Is mesothelioma contagious?

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Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that attacks the membrane around the lungs. While symptoms often start out mild, the condition quickly progresses ultimately leading to fatality. The aggressive progression of the condition often means friends and loved ones see the quick deterioration of the victim’s health. It is not uncommon for these individuals to worry about the possibility of contracting the disease.

As a deadly condition, mesothelioma is not contagious. Nor is mesothelioma hereditary. Individuals can only contract the disease due to the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. Even though asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, when miners, factory workers, auto mechanics, home renovators or workers in other heavy industries inhale or ingest the fibers, it leads to a catastrophic illness.

What is secondary exposure?

Even though the disease is not contagious, individuals with no direct contact to asbestos at the workplace can contract it. This often occurs through secondary exposure. One common example of secondary exposure is the following:

  • Over the course of a work shift, a young man is exposed to asbestos fibers which lodge themselves in the material of his clothing. When he goes home to hug his wife and children, he transfers these fibers from his clothes to theirs. These family members are in danger of mesothelioma based on secondary exposure.

What are common symptoms of mesothelioma?

Unfortunately, mesothelioma shares numerous symptoms with other conditions. Due to this overlap, medical professionals often struggle to arrive at the correct diagnosis in a timely manner. Early symptoms of mesothelioma can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough
  • Chest pains
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent coughing

Since exposure to asbestos, either primary or secondary exposure, is the only known cause of mesothelioma, medical professionals do not consider the condition contagious. Unfortunately, this does not diminish the severity of symptoms or deadly consequences of the disease.

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