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Posted by on Apr 17, 2008 in Neurology

More on Pig-Slaughter Neuropathy

More on Pig-Slaughter Neuropathy


New details regarding a progressive inflammatory neuropathy (PIN) in pork-slaughterhouse workers were revealed yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. The illness, according to lead investigator Daniel Lachance, MD, is a new disorder affecting primarily the sensory peripheral nerves and spinal nerve roots and is believed to result from an autoimmune reaction to inhaled, aerosolized pig brain. (For background info on “blowing brains” at the “head table,” click here).

The specific immune trigger for the illness has not been identified, although a previously unrecognized IgG autoantibody has been detected in all of the affected workers, according to Lachance. To date, PIN has been diagnosed in 18 workers in Minnesota, 5 in Indiana, and 1 in Nebraska. None of the affected workers (most of whom are Hispanic) has completely recovered, but some have experienced clinical improvement or stability.

bmartin (1127 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.


  1. I wonder if this is part of the scrapie/kuru/CJD constellation – some sort of prion related condition?

  2. JF,
    The investigators report that they’ve ruled out an infectious cause, including anything prion related. The current working idea is that antibodies produced against the inhaled, aerosolized pig brain then cross react with the victim’s own peripheral nerve tissue.