Rising Risk: Study Shows Alarming Increase in Parasite Prevalence in U.S. Wild Pigs

The expansion of wild pig populations in the United States threatens increased agricultural damage, disruption of fragile ecosystems, and the transmission of disease to livestock and human populations. Wild pigs are highly adaptable animals that reproduce quickly, and their distribution is spreading rapidly. This expanding range necessitates greater surveillance and understanding of the potential risks they may pose to public and agricultural health through zoonotic disease.

CEID members Christopher A. Cleveland, Ania A. Majewska, and Michael J. Yabsley are authors on a new study published in Veterinary Parasitology investigating the seroprevalence of Trichinella spp. and Toxoplasma gondii, both of which are capable of infecting humans and non-human animals, in wild pigs across the United States. Researchers utilized enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to test for antibodies against both pathogens in serum samples gathered from wild pig populations across the United States between 2014 and 2020. This approach, using samples gathered from a wide geographical area over several years, allowed for a comprehensive overview distribution and prevalence trends of the two pathogens within wild pig populations.

Their findings show a significant increase in the seroprevalence of both pathogens compared to previous surveys, placing the prevalence of Trichinella spp. and Toxoplasma gondii as 12.4% and 40.8% respectively. These findings highlight the alarming potential for increased human exposure to these parasites, emphasizing the urgency for heightened disease surveillance, targeted research on transmission dynamics, and public awareness campaigns to mitigate the risk of human infection.

For more, read the full publication here.