Dogs die in France from wild boar disease

Humans are safe but the disease can be fatal for domestic animals and pets

Two hunting dogs died after contact with an infected boar
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Two hunting dogs died from Aujeszky's disease after contact with an infected wild boar in the north of France, it has been confirmed.

The dogs became infected after coming into close contact with a dead boar in the forest of Fontainebleau near Barbizon (Seine-et-Marne) in late November, 2023.

The prefecture launched an inquest into the infection due to the potential danger the virus presents to animals. It is not transmissible to humans.

The initial findings, published in December, reported that one dog had been infected by direct contact with a wild boar that had been wounded by a hunter’s bullet.

The prefecture has now confirmed that in fact two dogs had been infected by the disease. Both died on the day they were diagnosed.

“The disease cannot be transmitted to humans and the meat of infected animals remains edible but there is no treatment,” said the report.

“Precautions need to be taken, in particular for hunting dogs, by limiting their contact with wild boar or pigs, preventing them from biting boar carcasses, and eliminating raw porcine meat or viscera from their food”.

Hunting associations have been urged to apply the prefecture’s guidelines and transmit the instructions to their members.

How dangerous is Aujeszky's disease?

The disease, which is caused by a Herpes virus, can be particularly dangerous for dogs, cats, pigs and sheep.

In many mammals, the highly contagious disease, also known as pseudorabies, causes disorders of the nervous system, including coughing, sneezing, fever, constipation, depression, seizures, ataxia, circling, and death.

It is transmitted in the saliva, faeces, breath and semen of infected animals.

Recovery is rare for dogs, cats and piglets.

However, adult male wild boar usually survive, becoming latent carriers of the disease and potentially spreading it via their faeces.

While there is no treatment for Aujeszky's disease, there is an effective vaccine for pigs.

Dogs can acquire some resistance to the disease by injection of an inactivated variant of the disease, however this has not proved to be effective for cats.

How widespread is Aujeszky's disease in France?

There have been sporadic outbreaks of Aujeszky's disease in recent years, with the worst coming in April 2020 when almost 100 cases were detected on a pig farm in Allier.

Another outbreak came in January 2023 when 15 cases were confirmed in pigs on a farm near Alès (Gard).

While the disease is considered rare there is uncertainty as to how widespread it is in wild boar, which can be asymptomatic carriers.

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