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Call to landholders for help with testing feral pigs for lepto and swine brucellosis

Central Tablelands Local Land Services is working on feral pig disease surveillance project, testing for the infectious diseases leptospirosis and swine brucellosis.

Feral pigs are potential carriers of swine brucellosis and leptospirosis and both diseases can spread to humans with potentially severe health consequences. Leptospirosis can also cause disease in livestock, while dogs can be infected by swine brucellosis.

Several recent diagnoses of swine brucellosis in dogs has raised concerns about the disease in the Central Tablelands.

“In recent months, dogs in Mudgee and Blayney have tested positive for swine brucellosis which is unusual for this region,” explains Local Land Services Veterinarian Nigel Gillan.

“The recent diagnoses in dogs could be explained by an increase in testing, or by a change in prevalence in the feral pig population.”

“The results from our disease surveillance research will help to shed light on this.”

Central Tablelands Local Land Services is working with landholders, gathering blood samples from feral pigs to gain a better understanding of infection rates in the feral population, and the related risk to humans, domestic livestock, and dogs.

“We don’t have good data on the prevalence of these diseases in feral pigs in the Central Tablelands region,” said Nigel Gillan.

“We’re asking any landholders who might be trapping feral pigs to assist us with this research, by letting us know at least one to two weeks before traps are set.”

Central Tablelands Local Land Services vets and biosecurity staff will, with landholder permission, then take blood samples from trapped pigs to test for the presence of leptospirosis and swine brucellosis.

Landholders who take part in the project will be sent the test results for the pigs trapped on their property.

“We’re hoping  the results of this surveillance project will help farmers and pig hunters, the people most likely to come into contact with feral pigs, to assess and minimise the health risks associated with these diseases.”

Leptospirosis and swine brucellosis Infection in humans can cause serious and life threatening symptoms. Leptospirosis can also cause illness and abortions in cattle, while dogs can become infected with swine brucellosis if exposed to the bacteria while hunting, or if fed raw feral pig meat.

Published results will not identify any individual landholder, but may be linked to a general location. The information collected will also provide base line data for use in future research.

Media contact: Arabella Fingleton, Central Tablelands Local Land Services, 0408 504 825