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Published December 01, 2009, 05:20 AM

Mayo Confirms Cause of Slaughterhouse Illnesses

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have confirmed the suspected cause of mysterious illnesses in 24 slaughterhouse workers in Minnesota and Indiana from 2006 to 2008.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have confirmed the suspected cause of mysterious illnesses in 24 slaughterhouse workers in Minnesota and Indiana from 2006 to 2008.

Their article in the British medical journal Lancet Neurology found that a mist of pig brain tissue inhaled by the workers triggered their immune systems to attack the workers' own nervous systems. Two of the workers may have permanent neurological damage.

But the researchers also have some unanswered questions, including why some workers exposed to the tissue didn't get sick.

Dr. Daniel Lachance says it's not uncommon for people to react differently to foreign substances, but why it happened here isn't clear.

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