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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Enteric Human Pathogens of Wild Boar, Feral Swine, and Javelina (Order: Artiodactyla)


Artiodactyls are even-toed ungulates that include domestic and wild ruminant herbivores (cattle, sheep, goat, deer, elk), pigs, and javelinas. There is increasing evidence that some wild ungulate species are important reservoirs of enteric human pathogens, and they may contribute to foodborne disease transmission directly through ingestion of undercooked game meat or indirectly via fecal contamination of fresh fruit and vegetable crops or agricultural water sources. To better understand zoonotic risks from feral swine and javelina in the U.S. southwestern desert, we conducted a prevalence survey of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and Salmonella in colonic-fecal samples from animals collected through hunter-harvest or depredation. STEC O157:H7 was detected in feral swine, but not in javelina samples. Salmonella and non-O157 STEC serotypes of potential public health importance were found in both species. The findings underscore the importance of continued public health education efforts to protect hunters from exposure to these pathogens when handling game animals. Fresh fruit and vegetable growers should continue to prevent intrusions by wild and feral animals in the produce production environment to minimize transport of fecal-borne pathogens to crops intended for human consumption.

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