Pseudorabies Suspected in Hunting Dogs at Corbett WMA in Florida

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Pseudorabies Suspected in Hunting Dogs at Corbett WMABiologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are warning hunters using the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Palm Beach and Martin counties to be cautious about wild hogs. 

“At least three hunting dogs have died after displaying symptoms consistent with the pseudorabies virus (PRV) after tangling with wild hogs,” said Dr. Mark Cunningham, a veterinarian with the FWC. “Tests to confirm the diagnosis of PRV are pending, and we are investigating unconfirmed reports from hunters that other dogs have died of the disease.”

No new cases have been reported to the FWC since Nov. 7. The disease is no threat to humans but always fatal in dogs.

Reports indicate the dogs that died were in the area between trails 1 and 2, behind “N” camp, and south of Corbett’s south check.

Pseudorabies has been present in this country the past 150 years and claims a small number of hunting dogs every year. Wildlife officials are unsure of the cause for the spike in cases at Corbett, but it may be due to environmental stress.

There are no plans to cancel the WMA’s hog hunt, which will end Nov. 16.

PRV is carried by wild hogs and is always present throughout Florida. The virus also has been reported in at least 10 other states. Moving hogs to new areas can spread the disease.

PRV is an extremely contagious herpes virus.  Despite its name, PRV is not related to rabies, and it is not contagious to humans; however, other animals and pets, particularly dogs, are susceptible to infection.

“Only dogs that are directly exposed to feral swine or consume raw feral hog meat are at significant risk for pseudorabies,” Cunningham said.

Dogs can become infected with PRV after exposure to infected hogs.  Symptomatic dogs will scratch themselves uncontrollably.  Death normally occurs within 48 hours. 

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 wild hog meat.

Hunters can minimize risk by keeping their dogs away from hogs and from hog carcasses.

A 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.

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