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Investigation Continues into Disease Among Pig Slaughtermen

by 5m Editor
4 February 2008, at 11:40am

US - Health officials in the US are now investigating three pig slaughterhouses for possible cases of progressive inflammatory neuropathy (PIN)- a disease believed to be caused among slaughtermen processing pig heads.


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"The investigation in Minnesota indicates that PIN appears associated with having worked at the head table, where a compressed-air device was used to extract pig brains."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

A survey of the 25 federally inspected swine slaughterhouses with more than 500 employees in the United States indicated that only three plants, in Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana reported recent use of compressed air to extract pig brains.

To date, no cases of PIN have been identified in association with workers at the Nebraska plant, but several workers at the Indiana plant have been preliminarily identified with neurologic illnesses and similar histories of exposure to head-processing activities at that slaughterhouse.

Further assessments of these patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and additional measures to identify other workers with illness, are being conducted in Indiana.

In Minnesota, the plant in the southeast of the state, which employs approximately 1,200 workers and processes 18,000 pigs per day, Minnesota Department of Health investigators, interviewed workers and reviewed the plant’s occupational health and employment records. As of January 28, 2008, a total of 12 workers at the plant had been identified with progressive inflammatory neuropathy (PIN) - eight workers confirmed, two probable and two possible.

As a result of the investigations, all three plants have stopped using compressed air to extract brain material.

"The investigation in Minnesota indicates that PIN appears associated with having worked at the head table, where a compressed-air device was used to extract pig brains," says the CDC report.

"In the process of blowing compressed air into the pig skull, brain material might have been splattered or even aerosolized, and workers might have been exposed through inhalation or contact with mucous membranes. One hypothesis for development of PIN is that worker exposure to aerosolized pig neural protein might have induced an autoimmune-mediated peripheral neuropathy (1,2). Additional investigation of the characteristics and causes of PIN is under way.

"Whether compressed-air devices are being used for pig brain extraction in other slaughterhouses or processing facilities, in the United States or internationally, is unknown."

Further Reading

- You can read the full CDC report by clicking here.


5m Editor