Neurological Disorder Strikes Indiana Pork Workers

by 5m Editor
17 January 2008, at 12:55pm

US - Workers at an Indiana pork plant have reported tingling and numbness in their arms and legs and general fatigue - the same symptoms that affected employees at an abattoir in Austin, Minnesota towards the end of last year.

The Indiana facility uses the same kind of air-compression equipment as the Austin plant, says a report in the Star Tribune.

Minnesota health officials said that the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana State Health Department are investigating the new cases. State health officials have yet declined to say how many Indiana workers have been affected by the mystery neurological ailment, but these are the first cases to occur outside of the initial outbreak in Minnesota. The factory has not been identified.

"There are a couple of cases that are similar," said Ruth Lynfield , Minnesota state epidemiologist.

She said that, like the 12 workers at the Quality Pork Processors (QPP) plant in Austin, those in Indiana were using a powerful air compression system to remove brains from pig heads at what is known in the industry as the head table. Blood and brain tissue gets sprayed into the air.

Austin workers first reported getting sick in December 2006, around the same time as the processing system was first put into use. QPP has shut it down and provides workers with goggles and face masks.

The investigators at the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC are looking for similar cases at other processing plants that use the high-pressure air system.

"We are actively beating the bushes looking for cases," said Ms Lynfield. The Indiana workers are only now being screened to determine whether they have the same array of symptoms as those in Minnesota.

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Further Reading

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5m Editor