In this short article, we will answer the question, “Can you get sick from eating wild hogs?” with an in-depth analysis of diseases caused by wild hogs and dangers associated with eating wild hogs, and tips for meat processing and handlings.
Can you get sick from eating wild hogs?
The obvious answer is Yes, you can get sick from eating wild hogs, wild hogs are prone to zoonotic diseases which can be transferred to humans particularly if they are poorly handled or are cooked improperly.
However, wild hogs that are handled and cooked properly and are healthy, pose little to no health risk when eaten.
What are wild hogs?
Wild hogs are also known as feral hogs or feral swine. They measure 5 to 6 feet long weighing more than 200 pounds. The population of wild hogs has increased rapidly by more than five million.
Wild hogs are hard to control, they always find their way to people’s properties, destroy their crops and farmland, compete with other wildlife for food and may spread diseases to other animals and people. The wildlife agencies have permitted poachers to hunt wild hogs as part of the population control measure.
People also wonder if they can eat javelinas.
Diseases caused by eating wild hogs
Infected wild hogs can transmit various bacterial and viral diseases to humans and other animals. There are more than 24 diseases that wild hogs can transmit to humans. Additionally, the wild hogs carry almost 45 distinct parasites, both internal and external.
The most significant zoonotic diseases include E. coli, brucellosis, Salmonellosis and Rabies, among others. These diseases are transmitted to humans when they handle infected meat or consume undercooked wild hogs. However, these diseases can also be transmitted indirectly through ticks and contaminated water sources.
Brucellosis is caused by Brucella bacteria. It develops among the wild hogs through birth fluids and semen. The infected hogs carry the bacterial species throughout their life.
Humans acquire these bacteria when they get contracted with an infected hog’s blood, tissues or fluids. And also by consuming improperly cooked meat from an infected wild hog.
You may start to feel sick within a week or a month after you have consumed or contracted wild hog infected with Brucella. Symptoms include:
- Fever and chills
- Low appetite
- Muscle and joint pain
E. coli infection
Escherichia coli normally reside in the intestines of both humans and animals. Not all E. coli are pathogenic. However, there is a strain of the bacteria that is harmful to humans and leads to food poisoning. The bacteria spread by ingesting food contaminated with faecal matter.
If you have consumed food contaminated with E. coli, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramps
Salmonellosis is caused by ingesting food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Additionally, properly cooked food can transfer the bacteria if it gets contaminated after preparation. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
Is Wild Hog Different From Domesticated Pig Meat?
From a safety viewpoint, wild hog meat is no more harmful than domestic pig meat. If either is undercooked, you will surely get sick. However, undercooked wild hog meat can transmit a wider variety of diseases than domesticated pig meat, but if you are cooking it properly it poses no health risk.
If anything, wild hog meat is more fibrous and has a more delicious taste. That is because wild hogs eat a more varied diet as compared to domesticated pigs that only eat grains. Furthermore, domesticated pigs are given hormones and antibiotics that allow them to grow larger but are harmful to humans.
Tips for meat processing and handling
- Never touch wild hogs that seem sick or those found dead.
- Always use sharp and clean blades when slaughtering and dressing in the field.
- Always wear latex or rubber gloves and proper eye protection when handling carcasses, to inhibit pathogenic organisms from entering the body through cuts on hands.
- Properly dispose of gloves after use and burn or bury any inedible body parts of the hogs to prevent hunters or animals from feeding on them as it may lead to disease transmission if the hog is sick.
- Disinfect all reusable gloves and tools used in slaughtering and field dressing with dilute bleach to disinfect them.
- Wash hands promptly with soap and warm water then dry them with a clean towel, even if you had worn gloves.
- Use the correct preservation methods to store meat from the wild hog. Temperatures below 0℉ will freeze the meat making the bacteria and parasites inactive without destroying them. However, they become active again when the meat is thawed.
- Thoroughly cooking the meat at temperatures of 165℉ to 170℉ will destroy all bacteria and parasites present in the hog’s meat.
In this short article, we have answered the question, “Can you get sick from eating wild hogs?” with an in-depth analysis of diseases caused by wild hogs and dangers associated with eating wild hogs, and tips for meat processing and handlings.