Research Needed into Role of Wild Pigs in Disease Transmission

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Farmscape for October 10, 2019

Full Interview 18:33 Listen

A scientist with the University of Saskatchewan says more research and a greater ability to track and test wild pigs is needed to address the risk of disease transmission from wild pigs to domestic pigs. Concern over the risk of wild boar or wild pigs harboring diseases that could be spread to domestic swine herds has increased recently in the face of the spread of African Swine Fever in Africa, Asia and Europe. Dr. Ryan Brook, an Associate Professor in the Department of Agriculture and Bioresources with the University of Saskatchewan, says, while North America is recognized as African Swine Fever free, we do know from other places that wild pigs can be infected and may play a role in spreading disease.

Clip-Dr. Ryan Brook-University of Saskatchewan:
I think the specific roll that wild pigs play in this is probably not entirely clear and it depends on a lot of factors. Some evidence and some modeling work from Europe has suggested that the role is relatively little in places where they don’t move very much but, in areas where they are highly mobile and cover large areas, their potential role would change quite dramatically. The only option, if there is an outbreak anywhere globally, is to try and eradicate the disease. Any animals that are going to harbor it, in this case domestic pigs and any free ranging wild pigs, have to be found and removed and eliminated and also there has to be the capacity to be able to do the testing to determine the disease status of these animals. I would say that, thinking about the risk to Canada, we can’t say definitively at this point what exactly the risk is of the wild pig herds so I think it’s pretty clear we need more research and we definitely need more capacity in terms of our ability to be testing all of these animals in the event that this disease did arrive.

Dr. Brook says Canada needs to be able to assure its trade partners that things are being done right so having a handle on wild pigs has become that much more important.

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