Feral Hogs Not Tied to Swine Flu

Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov

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AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reminds hunters and trappers there is no indication of a human-animal disease relationship with swine flu and to continue to use common sense when handling feral hogs.

While there is no known threat of contracting swine flu from feral hogs, they do carry other potential hazards.

Due to the danger of contracting swine brucellosis, the Texas Animal Health Commission urges hunters and trappers to always wear a mask or bandana and gloves when handling feral swine during processing. Trappers or any producers who have pigs that are ill with respiratory infections should contact their veterinarian. Trappers or hunters that become ill should seek medical attention and inform their doctors they have been around pigs.

Safeguards for Hunters

  • Wear gloves when dressing out hogs and dispose of gloves properly.
  • No eating/drinking/smoking while doing so.
  • Wear eye protection if there is risk of eye splashed with blood/other fluids.
  • Wear coveralls over clothes or promptly change into fresh clothes after dressing animals.
  • Wash hands and equipment thoroughly with hot, soapy water.
  • Practice good handling/storage procedures with the meat.
  • Properly cook the meat.

Information about Swine Flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

  • People cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork products. Most influenza viruses, including the swine flu virus, are not spread by food.
  • Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
  • No food safety issues have been identified, related to the flu.
  • Preliminary investigations have determined that none of the people infected with the flu had contact with hogs.
  • The virus is spreading by human-to-human transmission.

The CDC recommends the following measures to prevent the transmission of flu:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands frequently and use alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Try to stay in good general health.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Detailed information and updates on the flu outbreak may be obtained at:

Texas Department of State Health Services http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/

If you own swine, consider the following practices to enhance the biosecurity on your farm to prevent the disease from being transmitted to your herd:

  •  Workers should shower and change into farm-specific clothes and shoes before entering swine facilities. 
  •  Establish, implement and enforce strict sick leave policies for workers presenting influenza-like symptoms.
  •  Recommend that workers with symptoms be seen by a medical provider immediately.
  •  Restrict the entry of people into your facility to only workers and essential service personnel.
  •  Prevent international visitors from entering your facilities.
  •  Ensure adequate ventilation in facilities to minimize re-circulation of air inside animal housing facilities. 
  •  Vaccinate pigs against the influenza virus.  Vaccination of pigs can reduce the levels of virus shed by infected animals
  •  Contact your swine veterinarian if swine exhibit flu-like or respiratory illness, especially if the onset or presentation of the illness is unusual.  
  •  Notify your Texas Animal Health Commission area office or the Austin headquarters at 800-550-8242, after you have contacted your veterinarian.

The Texas Animal Health Commission is ready to assist with on-farm investigations, if pigs are present where a known human case has occurred, and to assist with epidemiological investigations with any human cases that may have links to swine in Texas.

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