Hunter Contracts Rare Brain Disease Known as “Goat Fever” from Wild Hogs

A Florida hunter contracted a rare brain disease known as “Goat Fever” after being exposed to Brucella bacteria that came from a wild hog.

According to Gizmodo, the hunter had been suffering from fever, headache, and other nonspecific symptoms affecting various parts of his body for 11 months before doctors at the Mayo Clinic were able to pinpoint the disease.

Everything came together when they discovered that the man was a prolific hunter of wild pigs. The tests revealed that the bacteria infection he had came from a type of Brucella bacteria that is found in pigs. The man has been treated and recovered but will continue to have some lingering neurological complications.

Part of the reason it took doctors so long to diagnose the infection was that Brucella was been mostly eradicated from North America. Infections used to be more common but since a dedicated campaign to vaccinate livestock they have been reduced significantly. Most cases of infection come from people drinking raw milk.

The disease is more prevalent in developing countries where vaccinating livestock is not a common practice. In those places, the infection is known as “goat fever” due to its close association with livestock.

Signs of infection include sweating, fatigue, and weight loss. More rarely, the bacteria can invade the nervous system, causing serious inflammation in the brain and neurological symptoms like severe headaches, seizures, and changes in behavior.

Many wild animals are known to carry the bacteria. Wild pigs like we have mentioned but also elk and buffalo are known carriers of Brucella. So hunters are being urged to take precautions. The bacteria can enter the skin through open wounds or be inhaled when in close contact with a freshly killed infected animal

“Hunters need to protect themselves when hunting animals and avoid eating or drinking raw or uncooked meats or unpasteurized milk, respectively,” said study author Julio Mendez

This is the first case in which hunting wild pigs has served as a source of infection for humans.