Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wild hogs linked to at least 67 viruses, bacteria and parasites that can infect humans, animals

Feral hogs have been blamed for causing millions of dollars in damage in some states. But scientists say an even bigger problem is that the animals carry a large number of viruses, bacteria and parasites that can infect humans and animals, Brian Broom reports for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. Wild hogs have been reported in every county in Mississippi.

One of the most common diseases spread by feral swine is leptospirosis, Broom writes. It's a disease that U.S. Department of Agriculture data says 61 percent of wild hogs in Mississippi have been infected with at some point in their lives, according to Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks biologist Anthony Ballard. (Year of first recorded occurrence of wild hogs: 2015 study by Conservation Science Partners, Colorado State University and USDA)
MDWFP biologist William McKinley told Broom, "Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection. It's common in the environment. Multiple animals can get it including deer and humans. Wild hogs are a reservoir for it, meaning they are walking around shedding it everywhere. It is primarily passed through urine."

One problem is that "when the bacteria is shed, it lingers," living outside the host for weeks of months, Broom writes. "We see outbreaks of it during flooding events. Anything that drinks that water, including humans, has the ability to contract that disease. Wild hogs are such a reservoir for so many diseases. Hogs are hosts to about 30 types of bacterial and virulent diseases and 37 parasites. They can contract things and live with it that will kill other animals. They can carry on, do their thing and basically be unaffected," Ballard told Broom.

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