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Farm Animal Practice
Pigs and zoonoses
  1. Tom Alexander

    Tom Alexander has taught infectious diseases to students at the University of Cambridge for over 30 years. He is known internationally for his research into porcine infectious diseases and for the development of disease control methods in pigs. He was a founding member of the Pig Veterinary Society and chaired the RCVS pig medicine board for many years from its inception.


IF all the organisms that could infect pigs, and that in theory might also infect people, were listed without explanation, the list would be long and imposing, but misleading. From the viewpoint of the British pig industry, once the exotic, relatively unimportant and rare zoonoses are removed, the list that remains is less daunting, especially when compared with the threat of zoonoses from other foodproducing animals. However, it is important for the industry not to be too complacent regarding the zoonotic risks, particularly in the light of the increasing numbers of the general public who are immunocompromised. There is also the possibility that the imminent application of porcine xenotransplantation may further increase the risks. A re-examination of the zoonotic potential of pigs is therefore timely.

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