A North Carolina State University study shows that, for the first time since testing began several years ago, feral pigs in North Carolina have tested positive for Brucella suis, an important and harmful bacteria that can be transmitted to people.
In a study conducted to test N.C. feral pig populations for several types of bacteria and viruses, about 9 percent of feral pigs studied in Johnston County and less than 1 percent of feral pigs surveyed randomly at 13 other sites across the state showed exposure to B. suis.
Dr. Suzanne Kennedy-Stoskopf, a co-author of the paper and a research professor of wildlife infectious diseases with the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, says that testing positive for antibodies to B. suis means the feral pigs have been exposed to and mounted an immune response against the bacteria. Antibodies do not eliminate B. suis from pigs, so the animals are considered infected and capable of transmitting the bacteria to other pigs and people. She adds that control and eradication programs introduced in the late 1990s eliminated swine brucellosis from all commercial pig populations in the United States.
Dr. Kennedy-Stoskopf says that B.suis can be transmitted among pig populations when pigs ingest infected tissue or fluids. Direct contact with infected pigs or ingestion of contaminated food and water could cause currently uninfected pig populations to become infected.
Tuesday April 10, 2012/ CVM-NC State University/ United States.