Feral hogs are everywhere these days, so deer hunters are bound to run across them during time afield. And putting some of the pigs down is a great way to manage their burgeoning populations, which can cause habitat problems.
In fact, most biologists encourage hunters to shoot every hog possible.
But there are some potential health concerns when handling hogs, according to biologists.
For instance, humans also can contract leptospirosis through contact with hogs’ blood, urine and other body fluids. Leptospirosis causes high fever, joint pain, anemia, and liver and kidney infections — and it can be fatal, according to the Summer 2015 edition of Louisiana Wildlife Insider.
And this serious bacterial disease can be prevalent in hog populations: About 80 percent of feral hogs sampled in Louisiana were positive for leptospirosis, with 12 percent having active infections.
Another danger is the presence of swine brucellosis, a bacterial disease that can be transmitted to humans from infected pigs through contamination of your eyes, nose, mouth or any open wounds with a hog's blood, reproductive secretions or amniotic fluid.
Swine brucellosis causes undulant fever in humans. The illness is treatable but can have lifetime impacts.
Other diseases humans can contract from hogs include trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, tularemia and swine influenza.
Trichonosis and toxoplasmosis are caused by parasites that can be transmitted to humans by consuming under-cooked pork.
Tularemia is a bacterial disease spread through contact with contaminated blood, respiratory secretions, urine and saliva. Swine influenza can be contracted via nasal, oral and respiratory secretions from infected hogs.
The danger isn’t only to humans, however. Pseudorabies can be transmitted to most mammals except humans. Dogs are particularly susceptible to this viral disease, which is spread by hog saliva, urine or feces. Infection can be fatal; 10 hog-hunting dogs in Arkansas died of pseudorabies in 2010.
So should you just pass up shooting hogs? Or maybe just leave them for coyotes and buzzards after the shot?
Not at all, but it’s important to take some precautions to prevent direct contact of hogs’ body fluids with your nose, mouth and eyes, as well as any open cuts you might have.
Click here to read the Top 6 ways to ensure you and your pets remain safe when handling feral hogs.