Updated April 21, 2010

Background

Dogs exposed to feral hogs are at risk for pseudorabies.  Dogs should not be fed raw feral hog meat.  Moving hogs around to new areas can help to spread the disease.

The disease is not a threat to humans, but it is always fatal in dogs.

Questions (with links to answers)

  1. What is pseudorabies?
  2. What other names is it commonly known by?
  3. What animals are in danger of contracting the disease?
  4. Can people be infected with pseudorabies?
  5. What is the main host for the disease?
  6. How is it transmitted?
  7. How is the virus spread?
  8. Can horses get it?
  9. Are dogs susceptible to contracting pseudorabies?
  10. Is there a vaccine to protect against the disease?
  11. Is there a cure for pseudorabies?
  12. How long has it been in the United States?
  13. How many wild boars have pseudorabies?
  1. Do any domestic pigs have pseudorabies?
  2. What are the symptoms of pigs when they have the disease?
  3. Do pigs recover from pseudorabies?
  4. How long can the virus live outside of the hog?
  5. Can you eat infected hogs without harm?
  6. What are the symptoms of dogs infected with pseudorabies?
  7. How long does it take symptoms to show after exposure?
  8. Can dogs give it to other dogs?
  9. Will this virus die out?
  10. How do I protect my dogs from this?
  11. What should I do if I have further information on the occurrence of this disease?

1. What is pseudorabies?

Pseudorabies is a highly contagious infectious disease of swine caused by pseudorabies virus (PRV), a herpes virus. It can cause reproductive problems, including abortion, stillbirths, and even occasional death losses in breeding and finishing hogs. PRV is present in both domestic and feral hogs.

2. What other names is it commonly known by?

It is also known as mad itch or Aujeszky's disease.

3. What animals are in danger of contracting the disease?

Animals that could be infected are pigs, dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, raccoons, opossums, rats, mice, horses, goats, panthers, coyotes, bears and minks.

Return to Questions

4. Can people be infected with pseudorabies?

There are no records of humans contracting this disease, not even people working on farms with many PRV-infected animals. Hunters and those handling raw feral hog meat, however, are at risk for swine brucellosis. When handling hogs or raw meat, wear impermeable gloves; do not eat, drink or use tobacco products; avoid direct contact with blood, other fluids, feces and raw meat; wash and disinfect any surfaces contacting meat and blood; and wash hands frequently. More information is available in the Safety section of MyFWC.com.

Return to Questions

5. What is the main host for the disease?

Swine are the main host.

Return to Questions

6. How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted through saliva, nasal discharge, sexual encounters and from eating contaminated feed/carcasses. It is not transmitted through urine or feces.

Return to Questions

7. How is the virus spread?

PRV is spread primarily through direct animal-to-animal (or nose-to-nose) contact between an infected and shedding pig and an uninfected pig. If present on inanimate objects, such as boots, clothing, feed, trucks and equipment, the virus can also spread to domestic swine.

Return to Questions

8. Can horses get it?

Horses are resistant to the disease, and reports of horses contracting pseudorabies are very rare.

Return to Questions

9. Are dogs susceptible to contracting pseudorabies?

Yes, and it is always fatal when they do contract pseudorabies. It is unlikely that dogs or other animals would be in danger of contracting PRV unless there has been direct contact through a bite wound or through consumption of raw feral hog meat.

Return to Questions

10. Is there a vaccine to protect against the disease?

The modified-live vaccine is labeled only for domestic swine and is available only to veterinarians through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  Consult a licensed veterinarian for further information regarding vaccination and prevention for domestic swine.

There is no vaccine approved for use in dogs; however, dog owners should consult their local veterinarian regarding vaccination.

Return to Questions

11. Is there a cure for pseudorabies?

No.

Return to Questions

12. How long has it been in the United States?

The first recorded cases in the United States begin at least 150 years ago.

Return to Questions

13. How many wild boars have pseudorabies?

Past studies in South Florida estimate infection rates in wild boars between 40 and 50 percent. A large proportion of feral swine are carriers, but few are actually infectious at any given time. Stress such as overcrowding, high water levels or poor nutrition can increase the percentage of swine that are infectious and thus lead to increased exposure.

Return to Questions

14. Do any domestic pigs have pseudorabies?

There have been no reported cases in domestic pigs in the United States since 2003.

Return to Questions

15. What are the symptoms of pigs when they have the disease?

Young pigs may die, pregnant sows may abort, older hogs may be healthy until they are stressed, then they may develop runny noses and watery eyes.

Return to Questions

16. Do pigs recover from pseudorabies?

Pigs infected are probably carriers of the virus for life.  However, they will likely show symptoms only when they are chronically stressed.

Return to Questions

17. How long can the virus live outside of the hog?

It can live up to four days, although the likelihood of being exposed to enough of the virus through indirect contact is low.

Return to Questions

18. Can you eat infected hogs without harm?

Yes.  However, it is recommended that any animal showing outward signs of being sick (e.g. emaciation, abscesses, runny eyes or nose, etc.) not be consumed as a general precaution, especially considering the potential for other diseases, including brucellosis.  Many hogs will carry the virus but be perfectly healthy.

Return to Questions

19. What are the symptoms of dogs infected with pseudorabies?

Infected dogs will scratch themselves uncontrollably.  The disease progresses to symptoms that mimic rabies, with frothing at the mouth, loss of muscular control and erratic behavior.  Death occurs usually within 48 hours.

Return to Questions

20. How long does it take symptoms to show after exposure?

Symptoms can occur in dogs within days after exposure.

Return to Questions

21. Can dogs give it to other dogs?

There are no known cases where dogs have infected other dogs. The principal risk of infection in dogs is exposure to hogs that are actively shedding the virus.

Return to Questions

22. Will this virus die out?

The virus will always be present in wild hogs; impacts to dogs will lessen as each episode runs its course.

Return to Questions

23. How do I protect my dogs from this?

There is no vaccine approved for use in dogs; however, dog owners should consult their local veterinarian regarding vaccination. Dog owners can minimize exposure to hogs by keeping dogs on a leash and away from hogs. Additionally, dogs should not be fed uncooked feral hog meat or offal.

Return to Questions

24. What should I do if I have further information on the occurrence of this disease?

Report any information you have on this topic to the FWC at 561-625-5122.

Top of page



FWC Facts:
You can fit nearly 100 Karenia brevis cells on the head of a pin.

Learn More at AskFWC