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Prevalence of zoonotic pathogens from feral pigs in major public drinking water catchments in Western Australia

Hampton, J., Spencer, P.B.S.ORCID: 0000-0002-4938-2615, Elliot, A.D. and Thompson, R.C.A. (2006) Prevalence of zoonotic pathogens from feral pigs in major public drinking water catchments in Western Australia. EcoHealth, 3 (2). pp. 103-108.

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Australia has the largest number of wild pigs in the world. Their pronounced impacts on agriculture and biodiversity make the estimated 23 million feral pigs one of Australia's most important vertebrate pest species. The foraging and wallowing behavior of pigs can markedly increase the turbidity of water supplies, but more importantly, they can transmit and excrete a number of infectious waterborne organisms pathogenic to humans. Their persistence in drinking water catchments also makes them potentially significant reservoirs for zoonotic pathogens. In this study, important protozoan parasite pathogens, such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Balantidium, and Entamoeba, were detected from the feces of feral pigs caught in metropolitan drinking water catchment areas. All are potentially important waterborne human pathogens that pose a major threat to drinking water quality. Fortunately, the overall prevalence in feral pigs appears to be relatively low, with ≤13% of pigs detected with parasites. In this study, we combined the findings from the parasitological analysis with the use of 14 highly informative DNA markers to define a series of highly structured populations that indicated very little movement of feral pigs between the populations. The implication of this pattern is that any public health risk may spread very slowly between populations, but may be much higher within watercourses. This study represents an innovative and important new approach to drinking water source protection in Australia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Copyright: © 2006 EcoHealth Journal Consortium
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