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Poultry Workers Develop Hand Deformities

A new report by researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine has described two cases of poultry workers who developed a rare skin condition known as pachydermodactyly.

According to an article on Reuters Health, the condition has caused the workers to experience joint swelling, pain, itching, and burning in their hands, as a result of repeated injuries to the skin and tissue changes.

In the article, dermatologist Dr. Rita Pichardo-Geisinger, one of the study’s authors, is quoted as saying, “Although there are not many cases reported, and pachydermodactyly is rare, I believe other poultry workers may have this condition despite the sue of protective measures, such as gloves.”

The two cases were discovered in a study on skin disease among more than 500 Latino immigrant poultry workers in western North Carolina.

In both cases, the men worked as both chicken catchers and chicken hangers. Their duties included scooping up five to seven chickens at once in each hand and putting them into cages. Then they would put the chickens into metal shackles on a conveyor belt. In both jobs, the workers must move quickly and go through the same motion for hours at a time.

Both men complained that the swelling in their fingers interfered with their jobs as well as their life outside of work. Symptoms improved when the workers took time off work; however the swelling did not go away.

The article notes that wearing gloves and rotating jobs can prevent pachydermodactyly and may ease symptoms for workers who have developed it. But according to Pichardo-Geisinger, “The long-term prognosis is deformity of the hands and inability to perform (the) patient’s job and daily activities.”


There are hard-working men and women across this country who have no choice but to work at a job that can potentially put their physical health in jeopardy. If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, you could be eligible for compensation. Contact the workers’ comp attorneys at Michael J. O’Connor & Associates for a free review of your case.