Safe Handling of Wild Hogs
We’re all aware of the saefty precautions that must be implemented in order to pursue and harvest wild hogs. The hunting environment is wrought with dangers. Snakes, poison flora, the game itself, weather, shooting direction and gun safety, treestand security systems, and the list goes on. But, one area not usually talked about or even considered is the reality that wild hogs are feral animals and as such, carry diseases that are harmful to humans. Now, I’m not saying that everyone needs to be paranoid and dawn a hazmat suit when handling/butchering your hogs, but being aware of the dangers and taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself is worth expanding upon.
I got the idea for this post after watching an episode of Pigman. In this episode, he teams up with a wildlife biologist who studies the diseases that are prevalent in feral swine populations. In reality, some of these diseases pose a significant threat to humans. These diseases, that can transfer to or are shared with humans are referred to zoonotic.
We’ll focus on three of the most prominent ones: Brucellosis, Leptospirosos and Psuedorabies.
Brucellosis – This is a bacteriological disease that has no cure. In animals, it causes miscarriages as well as infections of the reproductive systems. In humans, it causes symptoms similar to the flu (severe) and meningitis. Humans usually contract the disease when coming into contact with infected fetuses and fluids of swine. It is very serious and again, there is no cure. A lengthy stint of antibiotics can be effective in curtailing the symptoms but as with all illness; prevention is the best defense.
Leptospirosis – This is a bacteria that can infect humans and animals when they come in contact with the urine or blood of hogs. Either during cleaning or even when coming in contact with soiled dirt or contaminated water. The bacteria can live for weeks in the ground. It enters through the skin as well as through eyes, ears and mouth. Broken skin or scratches greatly increases the probability of infection. It causes kidney damage, meningitis and can lead to death.
Psuedorabies – Fortunately, this is not transmissible to humans but it’s worth mentioning here as it infects felines and canines. Many of us have pets and in many cases, they are present during the cleaning and preparation of hogs after harvest. Blood, tissue and other fluids that are a reality of the butchering process, can easily be accessed by animals resulting in infection. Psuedorabies is more often than not fatal.
Other diseases that warrant mention are hoof and mouth, cholera and swine flu. While these are serious, there haven’t been cases in which humans are contracting them at any rates justifying excessive action. But, education and prevention are key in keeping it that way.
How to prevent
It’s common sense really;
- Use good pair of rubber/exam gloves when handling feral hogs – 4mm exam-class gloves are best!
- Cover open wounds, scratches, etc. to prevent contact infections
- Wear a face mask or glasses to avoid getting blood and other fluid in your mouth and eyes during the cleaning process
- Keep pets and other animals away from the cleaning area and dispose of all unused tissue, meat and other organic material in a manner to limit contact with domestic animals and livestock and other people (kids, etc.)
Hog hunting is fun and really, due to the damage they do here in Texas, necessary. Let’s all be sure we don’t get sick doing what we love. Take the little steps to protect yourself and others.
Please also read this article from Texas A&M University.
Also, watch the episode of Pigman HERE – it is very informative and demonstrates first hand the efforts in place to study and control these infectious diseases.
Now, go get ya’ some Bacon….Safely!