April 17, 2008

This reads like the beginning of a B movie.

(especially when you add it to the looming news of a rice shortage, food riots, and so on. End times.)

Sickened pork workers have new nerve disorder | Health | Reuters: "CHICAGO (Reuters) - Eighteen pork plant workers in Minnesota, at least five in Indiana and one in Nebraska have come down with a mysterious neurological condition they appear to have contracted while removing brains from slaughtered pigs, U.S. researchers and health officials said on Wednesday.

They said the illness is a new disorder that causes a range of symptoms, from inflammation of the spinal cord to mild weakness, fatigue, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs.

'As far as we are aware it is a brand new disorder,' said Dr. Daniel Lachance of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who presented his findings at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in Chicago.

Lachance has been following the 18 Minnesota patients, all of whom have evidence of nerve involvement, typically affecting the legs.

He said tests showed patients had damage to the nerves at the root level near the spinal cord, and at the far reaches of their motor nerves, where the nerves connect with muscle.

The first cases of the condition were reported in November of last year at Quality Pork Processors Inc in Austin, Minnesota, where workers had been using compressed air to blow pork brains out of the skull cavity.

Lachance said this process appears to be triggering some sort of inflammatory response. So far, no infectious agent has been found that could explain the illness.


Lachance said it is possible that bits of pig brain stimulated an immune response in the bodies of the workers, causing their immune systems to improperly attack their own nerve tissue.

"It is a very strong association -- the fact that we are talking about harvesting (pig brains) and potentially exposing workers to nervous system tissue and then they are coming down with a neurological syndrome," he said in a telephone interview."

The job sounds like a nightmare, even before you add in the rare neurological disease. Unlikely to be outsourced, this one. Though imagine what the Chinese could add into the food supply if they started with this techniqe.

No comments: