Daelyn Fortney

Daelyn Fortney

Posted December 2, 2009

Published in Animals

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Slaughterhouse workers fell ill from exposure to pig brain mist

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img_2912.jpgThe Mayo Clinic Foundation has determined that 24 slaughterhouse workers who fell ill from 2006 to 2008 were experiencing an autoimmune response caused by the inhalation of pig brain tissue mist.

The study, published in the Lancet Neurology, found that all 24 workers who had worked near high powered air compressors used to extract brains from pig heads, developed polyradiculoneuropathy which is a painful inflammatory disorder affecting the peripheral nerves and the spine nerve roots. "The neurological disorder described is autoimmune in origin and is related to occupational exposure to multiple aerosolised porcine brain tissue antigens. The pattern of nerve involvement suggests vulnerability of nerve roots and terminals where the blood--nerve barrier is most permeable. "

Mayo Clinic neurologist James Dyck told Wired Magazine, "When you're breathing in pig brain tissue, your body develops an antibody against it. There's enough overlap between pig brains and human brains that it was a problem."

All of the patients have improved since being removed from the slaughterhouse environment and being treated at the Mayo Clinic. It was determined that other workers in the factory had antibodies in their systems indicating exposure to the aerosolized pig brains but did not develop any sickness.

In 2007, the factory shut down the pig brain processing center and no new cases of polyradiculoneuropathy have been reported. Read the whole story here.

Mentioned in this article:

  1. Slaughterhouse workers fell ill from exposure to pig brain mist
  2. Lancet Neurology full report
  3. Wired Magazine "Pig Brain Mist" Disease Mystery Concludes