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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Health risks to humans and domestic livestock posed by feral pigs (Sus scrofa) in North Queensland


A sample of 608 adult pigs from Cape York and adjacent islands was examined for parasites and their serum tested for livestock diseases associated with the Queensland tropics. Feral pigs from North Queensland pose a significant health threat to humans with the incidence of Spargana (the plerocercoid of Spirometra erinacei) through the consumption of undercooked pork. Meliodosis (Pseudomonas pseudomallei), Leptospirosis (L. var pomona), and Brucellosis (Brucella suis) are capable of infecting humans directly during unhygienic butchering of infected carcasses. In North Queensland, the widespread intermingled distribution of feral pigs and cattle increases the potential for the transmission of Actinobacillus, Leptospirosis, and Brucellosis from feral pigs to cattle. Both Europeans and Aborigines on Cape York also raise wild-caught feral pigs for meat. It is important to realize that parasites and diseases are present in young pigs and that poor husbandry practices increase the risk of infection from several parasites, i.e., Lungworm (Metastronsylus sp.), stomach worm (Physocephalus sexalatus, Hyostrongylus rubidus), thorny headed worm (Macracanthorrhynchus hirudinaceus), and kidney worm (Stephanurus dentatus). Heavy infection of these parasites reduce growth rates and cause unthriftiness in infected animals.

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