Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Reeves: Wild Pig Concerns…

By Randy Reeves
Feb. 4, 2018 at 4 a.m.

I am sure many of you have received the information pertaining to the recent finding of the Spirometra mansonoide , Bobcat tapeworm, in wild pig tissue in East Texas. In our society information travels faster than what one would assume in many instances, with this being an example. There are some aspects of the information surrounding the Bobcat tapeworm and wild pigs that need to be addressed with regard to escalating public concern over the past several days.

The finding of Spirometra mansonide (Bobcat tapeworm) in East Texas should not be of a serious concern because the parasite is endemic to the region and can be found in both wild and domestic populations of cats and other intermediate and terminal hosts. As with other parasites in East Texas, this particular one should be something of which to be aware, but don't let it keep you up at night. The Bobcat tapeworm can, in extremely rare cases, result in human health concerns. That does not, however, justify fear, merely the need to be aware. Parasites are common in animal and fish species commonly consumed for table food. The key to removing any level of fear or concern is implementing proper observation and food handling and preparation techniques. When processing any wild or domestic species for the purposes of consumption, one should follow the following steps:

  • Wear proper protective equipment/gear. The safety reasons for needing the proper gear is obvious simply because of the use of knives, saw and other processing tools. Safety gear also is needed for protection from that which cannot be seen. Parasites, blood pathogens, infections, etc., can be present in meat being processed for food. In most every instance it is not visible so prevention of exposure is the best course of action.

  • Use your best judgement if you should observe any abnormalities in the meat being processed. Should you find abnormalities in the color, texture, smell, etc., of the meat being processed, you have decisions to consider. Do I throw the meat away? If there is doubt as to the safety of the meat – YES. It is never good to balk at a food safety decision and disposing of questionable meat should be your call. Could the abnormality be a result of something that occurred in the act of processing? This is a possibility. When an observed abnormality is thought to be a result of processing, ask the individual processing the meat. If you were the individual processing the meat, rethink your previous steps.

  • Make sure to follow proper preparation with regard to cooking. Only cook meat that is free of any safety concerns. Cook the meat thoroughly regardless of origin. Some like a beef steak rare. This should not be the decision when cooking wild pig pork. Cook the meat thoroughly to the point of will done. Proper cooking techniques will remove virtually all concerns associated ingestion of something harmful.

Yes, wild pigs are everywhere throughout East Texas, with the entire region being prime habitat. It is somewhat common to encounter wild pig meat with abnormalities. The nature and diet of the species can explain the occurrences. Wild pigs are destructive in daily patterns from feeding to fighting and eluding perceived predators. In their daily activities, they will stab themselves with various items that may result in local infections and discoloration of the meat. Furthermore, the wild pigs are in excess of 90 percent vegetation but will also eat almost anything. Feeding habits of wild pigs can place them in contact with food items that may be harboring undesirable additions. For this reason you should be vigilant at all stages of interaction with wild pigs.

In closing, currently there are no toxicants labeled for wild pig control. This means that there should be no cause for concern with regard to ingesting pharmaceuticals while consuming the meat of wild pigs.

Contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office for assistance in answering additional questions or concerns pertaining to this topic.

— Randy Reeves is a Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent for Gregg County. Join him on his horticultural blog.



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