Hey all, I received this question a few months ago.
Great article. Thanks for posting. I’m hunting Javelina next week here in AZ. Have you come across any reports that I should be concerned about for Arizona?
Hello TSquare, I did a quick search and found a few published studies on javelina and diseases in Arizona. There are a few minor things that javelina can have including fungal dermatitis, external, and internal parasites. Most of these are common to all wildlife species.
Javelina, like any mammal, can contract the rabies virus. In almost all cases javelina will show symptoms which include foaming at the mouth, alterations in behavior (aggression or fearfulness), paralysis, and lethargy. Rabies is most often but not exclusively transmitted through contact with the saliva, brain, nerve tissue, eyes, nose, and mouth. Although unlikely, make sure you do not get bit. If you happen to get bit, make sure to seek medical attention immediately. Also, if possible, the animal should be sent to a laboratory for rabies testing. The above is a simple discussion of a very complex disease.
Javelina are known to have distemper, which can be transmitted to pets. Humans can carry distemper but will not show any symptoms. In 1989, a paper detected distemper in 58% of javelina serum samples tested which means it is very common. The authors suggested that recovery post-exposure is common.
Salmonellosis (caused by the bacteria Salmonella) has been found in many species including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. I found a published study that described a large scale mortality event of javelina in 2004. Over a hundred individuals were found dead and the researchers determined that 47% of the individuals had various Salmonella strains. However, javelina spend a lot of time rooting in the soil and normal exposure to Salmonella is normal and may not have been the ultimate reason for the deaths discussed in the study. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, dehydration, inability to walk, and death. Animals may remain very close to a water source.
I would be most concerned with Salmonella. Take precautions when cleaning your javelina. As mentioned above, wear disposable gloves and protective clothing when skinning and butchering the animal. Absolutely, try to avoid unprotected contact with the feces, brain, spinal cord, and blood. After cleaning the animal, be sure to clean and disinfect all knives, clothing, or cleaning surfaces and absolutely make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Additionally, make sure to properly cook the meat.
Good luck hunting and let me know how you do!