LINCOLN - The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has informed the Nebraska Department of Agriculture of an investigation of pseudorabies in wild pigs in the Genoa area.



The two agencies are working closely together to share vital information.



Wild pigs, believed to be hybrids of domestic hogs and Eurasian wild boars, were killed in Nance County by the Commission, according to Sam Wilson, the agency's furbearer program manager. Tests at the University of Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory revealed a positive result of pseudorabies.



Removal efforts continue in the area, and any observations of wild pigs should be immediately reported to the Commission at (402) 471-5174.



"We are working to prevent the spread of the disease in order to protect the economic and agricultural interest of the state," said Dr. Dennis Hughes, State Veterinarian.



Pseudorabies, which is not considered a health threat to humans, is a contagious viral disease of animals that primarily affects swine. It is transmitted through nasal and oral secretions, food, water and the environment. Other animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, dogs and cats can also be infected.



The wild pigs have been reported to kill deer fawns and eat turkey eggs, and can transmit the disease to bobcats, raccoons, skunks, opossums and foxes.



Extensive environmental damage is caused by the pigs, which feed on row crops and root up pastures.



The Commission law enforcement division is working to determine the origin of the infected animal.



Nebraska law states that it is illegal to import into the state, hunt, possess or retain in captivity, any wild pig, including Eurasian wild boar, as it constitutes an economic and ecological threat. The Commission is required by statute to kill wild pigs.



NDA will be contacting producers in the area to alert them to the situation, and to advise them of symptoms and preventative measures.



Swine producers should be vigilant and watch for any of the symptoms of pseudorabies in their animals. Symptoms include: respiratory distress, nervous system signs (trembling, incoordination, and paralysis), sudden death of young piglets, and females aborting. Producers are asked to contact their local veterinarian or NDA at (800) 572-2437 if they notice these symptoms.



Producers can consider several options to avoid the disease, including: vaccinating stock, following strict biosecurity measures on their farms, and minimizing contact with wildlife and rodents.



Pigs are not native to North America, according to Wilson. He said they are exotic invasive animals that native plants and animals have no natural defense against.



The Commission has funded the testing of wild pigs since 2004. More than 75 wild pigs have been removed from Thurston, Harlan, Seward, Nance and Platte counties since 2000.



Wilson said there are three types of pigs: domestic, feral and Eurasian wild boar. Feral pigs are domestic pigs and their offspring that have escaped captivity or been released for sport hunting. Eurasian wild boars, ancestors of domestic pigs, are native to Europe and Asia. They were released or escaped from game preserves into various parts of the United States during the late 1800s and early 1900s.



If anyone has any information on the introduction of wild pigs into Nebraska or of wild pig activity in their area, they are encouraged to contact the Commission.



Investigation into the possible illegal importation and/or release of wild pigs is ongoing.



Further information on pseudorabies can be found at www.agr.ne.gov.



SOURCE: Nebraska Department of Agriculture.