Local disease information aficionados (also known as Sickies) can pop their favorite carbonated beverage, prepare the celebratory feast, and toss babies in the air. Why? Because scientists have named a cool new disease after Oregon! Not just any disease, but a disease that invades and putrefies the body meat of chickens!

For the benefit of any newbie Sickie who may be reading this, Oregon Disease infects the breast tissue (breast tenders) in poultry and turns the naturally fresh pink muscle tissue into slick-looking green globs of festering foodstuff, which cling to the sorrowful bone like drunken lepers sliding against a street lamp. My breasts are tender just thinking about it!

According to the chicken experts at the Auburn University Poultry Product Safety and Quality Program (AUPPSQP), breast muscles--including fillets and tenders--are "the most valuable poultry meat in the U.S." You're telling me! However, no matter how much of a breast-tenders fan you are, very few of you would prefer puss-filled green ones. It doesn't sound palatable in the slightest. Unless you're on the lookout for a unique but inedible centerpiece for your St. Patrick's Day dinner table.

The disease was first discovered in the meat of turkeys that had been modified to attain maturity and promote maximum weight in unnaturally short time periods. They're doing the same thing to chickens. Modification of these birds to increase muscle fiber yield, so says AUPPSQP, can be "applied or triggered in ovo or post-hatch."

AUPPSQP breast tenders experts reveal; "Deep Pectoral Myopathy or Oregon Disease is a non-infectious, focal bi or uni-lateral necrosis of the deep pectoral muscle..."

"Lesions observed during processing indicate that birds are either genetically predisposed to this condition or some 'stressor' acts as a trigger for this condition during the pre-slaughter phase." They are studying the disease as part of their "Farm to Fork Approach to Ensuring Product Safety and Quality."

Hmm. What kind of stressor could possibly outshine the pre-slaughter phase? Are these chickens, who hang live by their bleeding feet on an assembly line to execution, worrying about the new tax forms or why there isn't a chicken event in the Winter Olympics? At best, Oregon Disease is caused by chickens who are less worried about the pre-slaughter phase and more about the post-slaughter phase.