Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Zoonotic pathogens from feral swine that pose a significant threat to public health.

Abstract

The natural fecundity of suids, great ability to adapt to new habitats and desire for local hunting opportunities leading to translocation of feral pigs to regions where they are not yet established have all been instrumental in the home range expansion of feral swine. Feral swine populations in the United States continue to expand, wreaking havoc on agricultural lands, further compromising threatened and endangered species, and posing a microbiological threat to humans, domestic livestock and companion animals. This manuscript thoroughly reviews zoonotic diseases of concern including brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, leptospirosis, enteric pathogens, both Salmonella spp. and shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, and hepatitis E. These pathogens are not a comprehensive list of microbes that are capable of infecting both humans and feral swine, but rather have been selected as they are known to infect US feral swine, direct transmission between wild suids and humans has previously been documented, or they have been shown to be readily transmitted during processing or consumption of feral swine pork. Humans that interact directly or indirectly with feral swine are at much higher risk for the development of a number of zoonotic pathogens. Numerous case reports document transmission events from feral swine and wild boar to humans, and the resulting diseases may be mild and self-limiting, chronic or fatal. Individuals that interact with feral swine should take preventative measures to minimize the risk of disease transmission and all meat should be thoroughly cooked. Additionally, public health campaigns to increase knowledge of the risks associated with feral swine are imperative.