Webinar to address diseases spread by feral hogs

Oct 26, 2012

Anyone ranching in Texas and other southern states knows firsthand the destructive powers of hogs.

Like little (or big) bulldozers, feral hogs can tear up crops, pastures and suburban lawns in their quest for underground edibles. But they also pose risks to livestock via disease transmission.

The Feral Hog Community of Practice’s ongoing hog webinar program seeks to educate livestock producers of the health dangers feral hogs represent. Joseph Corn, Ph.D. at the College of Veterinary Medicine of University of Georgia will present the webinar and cover topics such as the diseases and parasites feral hogs carry and can transmit to other livestock and humans.

“Many diseases, such as swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, tuberculosis and tularemia, are associated with feral hogs,” said Bryan Davis, Texas AgriLife Extension agent in Bexar County.

“This webinar is designed to provide useful information on how to help prevent the spread of these diseases by feral hogs.”

Of the diseases which feral hogs can carry and transmit to cattle or other livestock, most concerning are pseudorabies and tuberculosis.

In cattle, pseudorabies— also called Aujeszky’s disease or “mad itch”—initially causes intense itching, causing the animal to bite or try to scratch itself, sometimes followed by neurological and motor function impairment then death. Despite the name, pseudorabies is not related to rabies as is not known to infect humans. The name comes from the rabid-like efforts severely infected animals will go to try to alleviate the itching.

Tuberculosis is well known to the cattle world and luckily not the issue in the U.S. as it is in the UK and EU. Vigilance at slaughter plants, trace-back abilities for infected cattle and other control methods have rendered most of the U.S. tuberculosis-free for cattle. However, it does still show up as reservoirs of the disease can be found in wildlife such as wild hogs and, recently, deer in Michigan.

Infected cattle can transmit tuberculosis to humans.

Feral hogs can also carry internal and external parasites which can be transmitted to cattle and other livestock. Fleas, lice and ticks are common external parasites and come with their own host of diseases. Internal parasites can include liver flukes and lung worms.

The “Feral Hog Disease Issues” webinar will take place Tuesday, Nov. 20 at noon CST online. The event is free and open to anyone with an internet connection. The event will be hosted at connect.extension.iastate.edu/feralhog. Though there is a prompt for a login name and password, anyone lacking these things can simply sign up as a guest by selecting a temporary name. No registration is required.

The Feral Hogs Community of Practice is a resource area within eXtension concentrating on the control, adaptive management, biology, economics, disease risks, and the human interface of feral hogs across the U.S. Its goal is to provide critical information, resources and expert application of knowledge to farmers, ranchers and community members.

The “Feral Hog Disease Issues” webinar is the third in a series of four such programs. The final webinar of the series will be held Tuesday, Dec. 18 at the same time and “place.” It will focus on current and future feral hog research and will be hosted by Dr. Tyler Campbell of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“The purpose of this series is to provide the public with the most current feral hog-related facts available in such a way that participants can interact with the experts from anywhere as long as they have internet access,” said Jared Timmons of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

For more information, contact Timmons through email at jbtimmons@ag.tamu.edu or by phone at 254/485-4886. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor