Do feral pigs play an important role in New Zealand’s Tb problem?

Despite sometimes having a high prevalence of bovine tuberculosis (Tb), feral pigs are generally regarded as spillover end-hosts unable to sustain the disease in the absence of infection in other species. Although intra-specific transmission occurs in captivity (Ray et al.. 1972), transmission between feral pigs must be rare because there are few places in the world where Tb has persisted in feral pigs in the absence of infection in other species (Nugent et al. 2003a,b). The clearest evidence for end-host status is the decline in prevalence in pigs following the removal of infected cattle and buffalo from parts of the Northern Territory of Australia (McInerney et al. 1995). Countering this widespread belief, new evidence suggests Tb may have persisted in wild boar long isolated from livestock in Spain (Aranaz et al. 2004), and there is increasing suspicion that although not maintenance hosts in their own right, feral pigs do play some role as part of a wildlife complex in sustaining and spreading Tb in New Zealand. This paper summarises relevant insights from observations made during recent ecological and epidemiological investigations in New Zealand, focussing on three main areas: (i) additional evidence against intraspecific transmission between pigs: (ii) likely routes of transmission to and from pigs and their role in interspecific transmission; and (iii) the likely spatial scale and pattern of interspecific transmission involving pigs.

Author Nugent, G., Whitford, J., Yockney, I., Byrom, A. and Coleman, J.
Date 2005-05-02
Year 2005
Secondary title 13th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference
Place published Wellington, NZ
Publisher Landcare Research
Institution Landcare Research
Pages 258-261
Region NZ
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