Warm weather in the southwestern United States has officials worried about the threat of diseases spread by feral swine. Farmers and ranchers are being warned that populations of feral pigs need to be controlled because they could spread diseases to domestic animals and humans. Feral pigs can spread psuedorabies (a viral disease in swine, it is related to the herpes virus, not the rabies virus; it does not cause illness in humans), brucellosis, swine flu, and foot-and-mouth disease. They can also damage crops and contaminate water sources.
“We’re seeing a 20 percent annual increase in feral hog populations and with that the risk of spreading diseases like pseudorabies and brucellosis is greatly increased, and if we were to see the introduction of swine flu or foot-and-mouth disease, the problem could elevate quickly to a serious threat to animal and human health,”said Dr. Lisa J. Becton, director of swine health for the National Pork Board, quoted in Southwest Farm Press.
Trapping hasn’t been successful in the past, but there are other steps farmers and ranchers can take to keep their crops and animals safe. These include putting up fences, cleaning up around food bins, and being aware of any signs of feral pigs on their property.