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Mystery neurological illness plagues slaughterhouse workers

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given a name to an illness suffered by employees in pork processing plants in Indiana and Minnesota: progressive inflammatory neuropathy.

Twelve meatpackers in a Quality Pork Processors plant in Austin, Minn., and two at an undisclosed plant in Indiana reported fatigue, numbness and tingling in their arms and legs. A few are severely disabled, while others have returned to work.

All 14 employees worked near powerful compressed-air systems used to blow brain matter from pigs’ heads. The CDC speculates that the illness is not virile, bacterial or caused by toxins. It may be an immune response to airborne tissue.  

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