Article

Epidemiologic Investigation of Immune-Mediated Polyradiculoneuropathy among Abattoir Workers Exposed to Porcine Brain

Infectious Disease, Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division, Minnesota Department of Health, Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 03/2010; 5(3):e9782. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009782
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In October 2007, a cluster of patients experiencing a novel polyradiculoneuropathy was identified at a pork abattoir (Plant A). Patients worked in the primary carcass processing area (warm room); the majority processed severed heads (head-table). An investigation was initiated to determine risk factors for illness.
Symptoms of the reported patients were unlike previously described occupational associated illnesses. A case-control study was conducted at Plant A. A case was defined as evidence of symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and compatible electrodiagnostic testing in a pork abattoir worker. Two control groups were used - randomly selected non-ill warm-room workers (n = 49), and all non-ill head-table workers (n = 56). Consenting cases and controls were interviewed and blood and throat swabs were collected. The 26 largest U.S. pork abattoirs were surveyed to identify additional cases. Fifteen cases were identified at Plant A; illness onsets occurred during May 2004-November 2007. Median age was 32 years (range, 21-55 years). Cases were more likely than warm-room controls to have ever worked at the head-table (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 6.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6-26.7), removed brains or removed muscle from the backs of heads (AOR, 10.3; 95% CI, 1.5-68.5), and worked within 0-10 feet of the brain removal operation (AOR, 9.9; 95% CI, 1.2-80.0). Associations remained when comparing head-table cases and head-table controls. Workers removed brains by using compressed air that liquefied brain and generated aerosolized droplets, exposing themselves and nearby workers. Eight additional cases were identified in the only two other abattoirs using this technique. The three abattoirs that used this technique have stopped brain removal, and no new cases have been reported after 24 months of follow up. Cases compared to controls had higher median interferon-gamma (IFNgamma) levels (21.7 pg/ml; vs 14.8 pg/ml, P<0.001).
This novel polyradiculoneuropathy was associated with removing porcine brains with compressed air. An autoimmune mechanism is supported by higher levels of IFNgamma in cases than in controls consistent with other immune mediated illnesses occurring in association with neural tissue exposure. Abattoirs should not use compressed air to remove brains and should avoid procedures that aerosolize CNS tissue. This outbreak highlights the potential for respiratory or mucosal exposure to cause an immune-mediated illness in an occupational setting.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
107 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Chronic acquired demyelinating neuropathies (CADP) constitute an important group of immune neuromuscular disorders affecting myelin. This article discusses CADP with emphasis on multifocal motor neuropathy, multifocal acquired demyelinating sensory and motor neuropathy, distal acquired demyelinating symmetric neuropathy, and less common variants. Although each of these entities has distinctive laboratory and electrodiagnostic features that aid in their diagnosis, clinical characteristics are of paramount importance in diagnosing specific conditions and determining the most appropriate therapies. Knowledge regarding pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management of these disorders continues to expand, resulting in improved opportunities for identification and treatment.
    Neurologic Clinics 05/2013; 31(2):533-55. DOI:10.1016/j.ncl.2013.01.001 · 1.61 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite the progress in our understanding of pathogeneses and the identification of etiologies of peripheral neuropathy, idiopathic neuropathy remains common. Typically, attention to peripheral neuropathies resulting from exposure to environmental agents is limited relative to more commonly diagnosed causes of peripheral neuropathy (diabetes and chemotherapeutic agents). Given that there are more than 80,000 chemicals in commerce registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and that at least 1000 chemicals are known to have neurotoxic potential, very few chemicals have been established to affect the peripheral nervous system (mainly after occupational exposures). A wide spectrum of exposures, including pesticides, metals, solvents, nutritional sources, and pharmaceutical agents, has been related, both historically and recently, to environmental toxicant-induced peripheral neuropathy. A review of the literature shows that the toxicity and pathogeneses of chemicals adversely affecting the peripheral nervous system have been studied using animal models. This article includes an overview of five prototypical environmental agents known to cause peripheral neuropathy-namely, organophosphates, carbon disulfide, pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), acrylamide, and hexacarbons (mainly n-hexane, 2,5-hexanedione, methyl n-butyl ketone). Also included is a brief introduction to the structural components of the peripheral nervous system and pointers on common methodologies for histopathologic evaluation of the peripheral nerves.
    ILAR journal / National Research Council, Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources 03/2014; 54(3):315-23. DOI:10.1093/ilar/ilt058 · 1.05 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Viral outbreak investigation is challenging logistically as well as scientifically. In the context of addressing a fictional emerging viral disease I describe the process of discovery, from the initial report of a problem through discussions of intellectual property and sample management, study design, management, experimental execution and reporting of results.
    Journal of Virology 08/2014; 88(21). DOI:10.1128/JVI.00708-14 · 4.65 Impact Factor

Full-text (3 Sources)

Download
23 Downloads
Available from
Jun 2, 2014