From the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on 31 January 2008:
Investigation of Progressive Inflammatory Neuropathy Among Swine Slaughterhouse Workers --- Minnesota, 2007---2008
"This report summarizes an ongoing investigation of PIN, a syndrome that appears to be associated with swine slaughterhouse workers who process pig heads. Several clinical and laboratory features of this illness and the distinctive epidemiology associated with patients appear unique. Pigs slaughtered at plant A have passed inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the investigation has not identified any foodborne risk to the general population.
"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. 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. Clinicians should provide CDC with information regarding swine slaughterhouse workers who might have illnesses similar to PIN, including patients with peripheral neuropathy, myelopathy, or features of both. Clinicians who identify such patients should report the cases to their state health department and contact CDC at 770-488-7100."
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