Rural and Remote Health Journal photo
African section Asian section European section International section Latin American section North American section
current articles
information for authors
status/user profile
about us

Project Report

Blood, guts and knife cuts: reducing the risk of swine brucellosis in feral pig hunters in north-west New South Wales, Australia

Submitted: 3 May 2011
Revised: 24 October 2011
Published: 19 December 2011

Full text: You can view the full article, or view a printable version.
Comments: (login to access the comments on this article)

Author(s) : Massey PD, Polkinghorne BG, Durrheim DN, Lower T, Speare R.

Peter MasseyBenjamin PolkinghorneDavid DurrheimTony LowerRichard Speare

Citation: Massey PD, Polkinghorne BG, Durrheim DN, Lower T, Speare R.  Blood, guts and knife cuts: reducing the risk of swine brucellosis in feral pig hunters in north-west New South Wales, Australia. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2011; 11: 1793. Available: (Accessed 18 October 2017)


Introduction:  Humans who have close contact with livestock, wild or feral animals can risk acquiring zoonotic infections such as brucellosis, Q fever, and leptospirosis. Human infection with Brucella suis (swine brucellosis) usually follows occupational or recreational exposure to infected animals. Worldwide, many cases of human infection follow contact with infected feral pigs. In Australia there is a growing market for the export of 'wild boar' and a considerable number of people are involved in feral pig hunting. However, feral pig hunters are often hard to reach with health strategies. According to Australian authorities the most important means of preventing disease in humans includes covering cuts; wearing gloves; washing hands; and avoiding blood when coming into contact with feral pigs. There has not been an evaluation of the acceptability of these recommended risk-reduction strategies in the settings where feral pig hunting and evisceration occurs.
Methods:  Semi-structured interviews and small focus groups were conducted with feral pig hunters in north-west New South Wales (NSW), Australia, to explore their hunting experiences and views on the brucellosis prevention strategies. Interview and focus group notes were thematically analysed.
Results:  There was a range of experiences of feral pig hunting, from a very professional approach to a purely recreational approach. The main domains that emerged from participants’ experiences during their most recent feral pig hunting activity and their reflections on current swine brucellosis risk reduction strategies were: ‘you've gotta be tough to be a feral pig hunter’; ‘most of the suggested strategies won’t work as they are’; ‘reducing risk in the scrub’; and ‘how to let pig hunters know’. The recreational nature and prevailing macho perspective of participants demand a pragmatic approach to risk reduction if it is going to prove acceptable to feral pig hunters. The ‘you’ve gotta be tough to be a feral pig hunter’ context of the activity and the reality that many feral pig hunters participate with little preparation and a 'just keep going' approach, may counteract currently recommended risk-reduction strategies. The alternate strategies that emerged from the interviews need to be tested in the real activity, especially evisceration ‘in the scrub’ (at the site of slaughter). But the following ideas were grounded in the participants’ experiences: take more time and watch your hands when making cuts; have good lighting; take care when cutting near a sow’s uterus; use latex gloves to cover cuts on hands.
Conclusions:  Swine brucellosis is a zoonosis of concern for feral pig hunters in many parts of Australia, including north-west NSW. Many of the current strategies to reduce the risk of brucellosis did not appear appropriate or acceptable to the feral pig hunters interviewed. More acceptable strategies when eviscerating, such as taking more time, watching hands when cutting, ensuring good lighting, being careful in the vicinity of the uterus and using a latex glove to cover cuts and abrasions on hands need to be field tested. Further development of the food safety regulations is required to also support zoonosis risk reduction strategies.

Key words: Australia, Brucella suis, brucellosis, feral pigs, hunting, zoonoses.

This abstract has been viewed 4613 times since 19-Dec-2011.