Researchers Examine Disease Risk Posed to Pigs by Wild Mammals

Oct 25, 2022

Research conducted on behalf of the Swine Health Information Center is looking at the risk to pigs posed by bacteria commonly found in wild mammals in North America.

The Swine Health Information Center in partnership with the Center for Ecology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia is examining the spillover risk of bacteria from wild mammal species in North America into the U.S. swine herd.

SHIC Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg explains the folks at the University of Georgia developed a model by which they could look at the wide variety of bacteria found in wild animals with the assumption they have an opportunity to cross over into domestic pigs.

Clip-Dr. Paul Sundberg-Swine Health Information Center:

They identified 102 bacterial species in 127 wild mammal species in North America that have a chance of jumping over into domestic pigs.What we did was then take that list to a group of bacterial experts and asked them to assess the risk of these bacteria and their potential for causing problems in pigs.

If they spill over into pigs, there very well may be that the majority or some or the majority, we don’t know how many, may not even cause a disease problem for pigs.It may just be another commensal bacteria.

So, we asked this group of experts to look at this list and assess them on morbidity, on mortality, on welfare, on zoonotic potential, on a number of different criteria and to rank those for us and put those into some sort of order that we may be able to prioritise that 102 bacterial species so we can do a better job at targeting efforts to do that monitoring to make sure that we're looking for things that may spill over.

Dr. Sundberg says information from this work will help identify which bacteria should prioritised.

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