Figure 1. Hunter wearing gloves while processing a feral hog. Photo courtesy Dr. Jim Cathey, Texas AgriLife Extension
Potential diseases carried by feral hogs and their health risks are popular concerns among hunters . As a first line of defense, hunters should assess the body condition of each feral hog harvested. A feral hog that looks to be in poor condition or skinny should be discarded as this could be a sign of disease. These feral hogs should not be processed or consumed. Heavy weights, good muscle tone, and well fatted carcasses are indications of healthy feral hogs. But, these characters do not guarantee a disease-free animal. Some feral hogs may not show any outward appearances that suggest they are infected with a pathogen.
In the case of feral hogs infected with swine brucellosis, hunters are at risk while field dressing and processing carcasses. Transmission via contaminated blood or other fluids or tissues through the eyes, nose, mouth, or open sore of the hunter can occur. Protective measures should be taken to reduce disease transmission risk.
Wearing rubber or latex gloves will help protect the hunters skin and open sores (Fig. 1). Glasses will help protect the hunters eyes. Hunters should avoid rubbing their eyes, nose, and mouth, while processing a feral hog carcass. If rubber or latex gloves are not worn, make sure to frequently wash your hands with warm water and soap before, during, and after processing a carcass. Also be sure rubber or latex gloves are not torn during processing. All tools used should be thoroughly cleaned with a diluted bleach solution of at least 1 table spoon per gallon of water (see American Veterinary Association).
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a brochure outlining precautions that should be taken by hunters. Proper handling of the hog after harvest is important. To learn more about symptoms of Swine Brucellosis, treatment, and safe handling procedures, see: Wild Hog Hunting: Stay Healthy on Your Hunt.