Evaluation of the Interface between Feral Pigs and Pasture-Raised Pigs, a Multi-Agency Epidemiological Approach: Implications for Infectious Disease Transmission and Surveillance

The growing niche of pasture-raised pigs in the last two decades reflects consumer demand for local, sustainable, humanely-raised meat. One of the challenges of raising pigs outdoors is the increasing probability of domestic pigs interfacing with feral pigs and a corresponding increasingacadfed ruc davisisk of emerging diseases. California has one of the largest and widest distributions of feral pigs.These two parallel trends of an expanding feral pig population and a growing interest in pasture-raised pork creates a possible disease transmission link for existing pathogens harbored in feral pigs. The overall research goal is to fill a critical information gap regarding the epidemiology of diseases of interest by building a predictive map of high-risk areas for interaction and disease transmission among feral pig populations that interface with pasture-raised pigs in California.  The specific objectives are: 1) Geo-spatial characterization of feral pig populations and building a predictive distribution map using Maxent modeling; 2) Geo-spatial characterization of pastureraised pig operations; 3) Identification of high-risk areas for pasture-raised pigs to feral pig interface and disease transmission; 4) Estimation of Salmonella and STEC prevalence in pasture-raised pigs and feral pigs and identification of its risk factors. This project will provide valuable information to all stakeholders, from farmers to consumers, regarding the potential disease risks associated in the interface between pasture and feral pigs. Furthermore, a multiagency- university approach will synergize individual agency efforts on feral swine issues and should prove invaluable as a model for similar efforts nationwide in the near future. The outcomes of this project and team collaborations and the emerging industry of pasture-raised pig producers, will be useful for all related agencies, institutions, and stakeholders that may be called upon to respond to future disease outbreaks and natural disasters. We expect to expand this project to other states by applying to the combined call on swine health and foreign animal diseases (including ‘feral swine reservoir risks and mitigations’) funded by the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) and the National Pork Board (NPB). Other potential funding agency is the USDA AFRI, Foundational Program, Critical Agriculture Research and Extension (CARE).

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