Hunting feral hogs is big business here in Texas. Just one hunt, one in which you bag a single hog, can run you upwards of $500 (not including food, ammo, rifle…). They’re terrible animals, causing millions of dollars of damage every year, and lessening their numbers is just one benefit of taking down these delicious creatures. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, these hogs might be posing a risk to hunters above and beyond the regular traumatic variety . . .
Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria.
People can get the disease when they are in contact with infected animals or animal products contaminated with the bacteria.
If you are a hunter of particular wild animals, you may face an increased risk of brucellosis. This is because hunters are often exposed to the blood and organs of the animals they are hunting.
For those who slept through microbiology, Brucellosis is a gram negative bacteria (meaning that traditional antibiotics are less effective) that causes profuse sweating and muscle pain in humans, symptoms which can persist for your entire life. It can be treated with a lengthy course of modern antibiotics like Gentamicin, but it sucks while you have it.
According to the CDC, the risk of infection is highest when handling blood and organs of wild animals, specifically feral hogs. Transmission appears to be most effective during a blood – to – blood contact (bloody pig parts to open cuts) but anywhere wet on you body is a prime location for transmission.
How can hunters protect themselves from the bacterial threat? Say it with me: body substance isolation.
EMTs get it drilled into their heads from day one that anytime you’re going to touch someone, you’d better have gloves on. Which is why I have a box of non-latex gloves in my trunk at all times. Even with non-human patients, the golden rule of BSI will keep you safe. The CDC agrees, too.
So remember, when you go to butcher that hog, grab the gloves first.
[h/t Hillary — check out her Infectious Disease blog]