Leptospirosis in Feral Swine

Leptospirosis in Feral Swine

Leptospirosis in Feral Swine

Leptospirosis infects most mammals and is one of the most widespread diseases in the world. It is caused by a slender, spiral-shaped, motile bacterium called a spirochete. People can become infected with Leptospira bacteria after direct contact with contaminated animal urine or indirectly from contaminated water. Typical symptoms in humans include fever, chills, and intense headaches, but more severe illness can lead to death.

In the United States, most leptospirosis cases have been linked to people who work in slaughterhouses or on farms. Yet, more recently outdoor recreationalists have been exposed through contaminated water.

To get a better understanding of the geographic extent and prevalence of the disease in feral swine, samples from 2,055 feral swine from across the country were tested. About 13 percent of the samples tested positive for Leptospira bacteria suggesting the pathogen is common in feral swine and not limited to certain regions of the country. As feral swine continue to expand their range throughout the United States, it will be important to understand their role, if any, in leptospirosis out-breaks.

For more information, please contact NWRC@aphis.usda.gov.

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