Pork-plant workers in three states have contracted an unheard-of neurological disorder linked to removing pigs’ brains, Reuters reports. Some 24 people—most from Minnesota—are experiencing symptoms including inflamed spinal cords, weakness, fatigue, and numbness and tingling in the limbs. “As far as we are aware it is a brand new disorder,” said a doctor following the Minnesota patients.
The Minnesota workers had been forcing slaughtered pigs’ brains from their skulls using compressed air. “It is a very strong association” between the job and the illness, said the doctor. “We are talking about exposing workers to nervous system tissue” before they come down with a nerve-related ailment. The process is rare, noted an official; the affected plants have suspended it.