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Wild Hogs & Disease Issues

December 13, 2018

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about wild hogs and disease issues. Hello. I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Bill Hamrick, Mississippi State University Extension Wildlife Associate. So, Bill, thanks for being with me today to talk about this all important topic. I understand there are 40 known diseases and parasites that can be traced to wild hogs, the two most common are pseudorabies and swine brucellosis. Let's talk about pseudorabies first. It almost always kills pets, livestock, and other animals; correct?

Bill Hamrick: That's correct. Pseudorabies is a virus. The symptoms are similar to those caused by rabies. It effects the central nervous system, the spinal cord, and the brain. As a result of that, animals are sort of despondent. They don't really seem that alert. They may be drooling. Another name for pseudorabies is called mad itch. And animals will literally rub themselves raw against fence posts, trees, whatever they can get to, scratching. They self mutilate. They bite themselves and tear the hide and tissue. So it's a very, very cruel way to go.

Amy Myers: Very painful.

Bill Hamrick: Yes.

Amy Myers: Okay. So, for those of us who have cattle, sheep, goats, etc., and livestock and also our pets, we need to be vigilant and make sure that we keep them away from these risks. Talk about how a hog spreads this disease to another animal and what the risks are in other animals spreading it to other animals.

Bill Hamrick: Some of the ways that the disease is spread, especially between wild hogs and livestock, would be saliva, usually from eating at feeders where wild hogs that are infected with pseudorabies may have been eating. Tanks, watering tanks, troughs, maybe even small water holes where animals may have urinated in the water. There's various different ways that wild hogs can infect livestock.

Usually with dogs and coyotes and raccoons, bobcats, things like that, it's generally from eating infected tissues, either from one that's died naturally or one that it's been killed by a hunter and either left there to just rot or it could be one that someone took home to clean and they didn't dispose of the carcass properly.

Amy Myers: Or, it could be from another animal getting attacked by a wild hog? Is that possible?

Bill Hamrick: That's possible. One bite is probably not as likely. But a prolonged fight between two animals, a lot of biting and scratching and bloodshed, there's a really good chance that would infect an animal. And then, a dog that's been infected can infect other dogs that it has contact with.

Amy Myers: Can a dog infect other types of animals, like cats or pets?

Bill Hamrick: Yeah, that's possible.

Amy Myers: So, I understand that pseudorabies is not known to spread to humans. However, swine brucellosis can spread to humans as well as pets, livestock, wildlife, etc. What is swine brucellosis?

Bill Hamrick: Swine brucellosis is a bacteria. And you are correct, it's a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be spread from animals to humans and pigs, whether wild or domestic pigs. It causes stillbirths and abortions. So it's very devastating to the livestock industry, as is pseudorabies. And those are two of the things that they are very, very vigilant about as far as monitoring.

In humans, brucellosis can cause fever, fatigue syndrome that recurs every several months or so, swelling and aching of the joints, back pain. If it's detected fairly early, within a month or so of infection, it can be treated and cleared up within several weeks to a couple of months. But the longer it goes, the longer it's going to take of expensive rounds of antibiotics.

Amy Myers: Bill, where can we go for more information about wild hog or wild pig diseases?

Bill Hamrick: Visit our website here at Mississippi State University. It's

Amy Myers: Okay, What about or

Bill Hamrick: Those two are excellent sources as well.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Bill Hamrick, Wildlife Associate. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Wildlife, Fisheries & Aquaculture

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