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Posted by on Jan 22, 2008 in Infectious diseases, Neurology

Suggested Link Between Pig Slaughter and Neurologic Illness

Suggested Link Between Pig Slaughter and Neurologic Illness


The CDC is reportedly investigating a series of neurologic illnesses at pig-processing plants in Minnesota and Indiana, where workers have used the gee-I-wish-I-didn’t-know-that method of blowing out the slaughtered animals’ brains with compressed air. The current speculation is that aerosolized brain parts are somehow associated with the development of the workers’ illness, which has been described in press reports as resembling neuropathy.


Further speculation may be premature; however, the cases suggest the development of either an acute inflammatory neuropathy (eg, Guillain-Barre syndrome [GBS]) or a chronic version of same (as has been reported), due to exposure to and infection with Campylobacter. The bacteria is the suggested link here at the Pathophilia blog, owing to the fact that swine are known to be reservoirs for the pathogen, and that infection with Campylobacter jejuni is the most frequent, identifiable infection known to trigger GBS.

bmartin (1130 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.