The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is encouraging hunters to take precautions when dressing and handling harvested wild hogs.
Wild hogs, though not originally native to Florida, are now found within all 67 counties, and like any wild animal, can carry parasites and diseases some of which can be transmitted to people. One such disease for hunters to be concerned with is swine brucellosis.
The FWC is advising hunters handling wild hog carcasses to take the following precautions to protect themselves from exposure to this bacterial disease:
[*]Avoid eating, drinking or using tobacco when field-dressing or handling carcasses.
[*]Use latex or rubber gloves when handling the carcass or raw meat.
[*]Avoid direct contact with blood, reproductive organs and fecal matter. Wearing long sleeves, eye protection and covering any scratches, open wounds or lesions will help provide protection.
[*]Clean and disinfect knives, cleaning area, clothing and any other exposed surfaces when finished.
[*]Wash hands frequently with soap and water. [/ul]
When cooking wild hog, as with any wild game, care in handling is an important part of disease prevention, and the meat should be cooked thoroughly to 170 degrees. Swine brucellosis is not transmitted through properly cooked meat.
"Hunters shouldn't be overly concerned with swine brucellosis, but they should practice these good-hygiene, safety precautions when field-dressing wild hogs," FWC wildlife veterinarian Mark Cunningham said.
Brucellosis in people is called undulant fever and could be transmitted if a hunter cut himself while field-dressing a wild hog or was exposed to the animal's blood or bodily fluids. Symptoms include a recurrent fever, chills, night sweats, weakness, headaches, back pain, swollen joints, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Hunters who exhibit these symptoms or may have been exposed should contact a physician.