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Published October 20, 2009, 01:32 PM

ND ag commissioner hospitalized for tests

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is undergoing tests at a Bismarck hospital for a disorder that causes paralysis.

By: JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is undergoing tests at a Bismarck hospital for a disorder that causes paralysis.

Goehring, 44, said he checked into a hospital Monday, worried about a reoccurrence of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a paralyzing condition in which the body's immune system attacks its peripheral nerves. Goehring said he originally came down with the disorder about 18 years ago.

Test so far this week had been negative for Guillian-Barre, Goehring said, but more were planned.

"I've definitely felt better," Goehring said Tuesday. "I'm extremely tired and fatigued."

Guillain-Barre syndrome can cause a loss of reflexes, sensory abnormalities and paralysis of respiratory muscles, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site says. The CDC says "a small proportion of patients die, and 20 percent of hospitalized patients can have prolonged disability."

Goehring continues to work from his hospital room, answering telephone calls.

"The doctors have not discouraged me or told me not to (work)," he said.

Still, he said, typing on his computer has been difficult.

"I type with a pinky — it's the only thing that works right now," Goehring said. "It hurts to actually hit a key."

Bob Christman, the state's deputy agriculture commissioner, said Goehring is being updated on the agency's most pressing and important business.

"He's not fine but his mind is fine," Christman said. "He's interested and concerned about what's going on."

Gov. John Hoeven named Goehring as North Dakota's state agriculture commissioner in April. The Menoken farmer succeeded Roger Johnson, who resigned to become president of the National Farmers Union.

Goehring twice ran unsuccessfully for the job in the last four years.

The state Agriculture Department has about 70 employees and a two-year budget of $17.4 million. The agriculture commissioner is paid $81,743 annually.

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