November 30th, 2009

Pork Plant Illness Coverage

By Kelley Luckstein

An answer, questions in Austin plant illnesses

When 21 slaughterhouse workers at an Austin, Minn., pork plant came down with a mysterious neurological disorder in 2007, it prompted a nationwide investigation into the unique autoimmune disease…

 

In a study published Monday in Lancet Neurology they confirmed an initial theory -- that the workers had inhaled pig blood and brain tissue sprayed into the atmosphere by high-pressure air hoses…

 

"That is the great unknown," said Dr. Daniel Lachance, a Mayo Clinic neurologist who was one of the first to identify the disease and has studied it ever since. "There are many, many instances in medicine where people have exposure but they don't get sick."

 

Star Tribune by Josephine Marcotty, 11/29/09

 

Array of tests clarified nature of illness

Researchers at Mayo Clinic and the Minnesota Department of Health had to conduct comprehensive tests to develop a clear picture of a mysterious neurologic illness found in slaughterhouse workers in Austin and two other states…

 

Their efforts are described in an article this week in the Lancet Neurology medical journal.  It's likely that people in addition to the 24 studied by the researchers were affected by the illness but did not come forward or physicians were unable to prove a connection…

 

Mayo researcher and co-author Dr. Daniel Lachance said he believes the illness is caused by various components in pig-brain tissue that workers were exposed to through breathing or contact with the eyes, nasal system or mouth.

 

Post-Bulletin by Jeff Hansel, 11/30/09

 

Mayo, state researchers release paper on illness caused by pig-brain tissue (video)

A scientific paper addressing a unique occupational autoimmune illness contracted by people working in an Austin, Minn., slaughterhouse is scheduled to go online Monday night.

 

Some people working in the pig-brain harvesting area of Quality Pork Processors in Austin became ill, as did people doing the same job at two other U.S. plants. "It is highly likely that the (human) body's immune system reacted to several different components from the brain tissue and produced this disorder," said Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Dan Lachance.

 

Post-Bulletin by Jeff Hansel, 11/30/09

 

Additional coverage: MPR

Tags: autoimmune disease, mysterious neurological disorder, Neurology, pork plant

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