Pseudorabies (also known as Aujesky’s disease or “mad itch”) is a viral disease most prevalent in swine, often causing newborn piglets to die. Older pigs can survive infection, becoming carriers of the pseudorabies virus for life. Other animals infected from swine die from pseudorabies. Infected cattle and sheep can first show signs of pseudorabies by scratching and biting themselves. In dogs and cats, pseudorabies can cause sudden death. The virus does not cause illness in humans.

After many years of control and eradication measures Hawaii’s domestic swine have been given a “free” status for pseudorabies, however feral swine are infected statewide and serve as a threat to domestic swine operations if biosecurity measures are not in place.  Comingling of feral swine by capturing and placing feral swine in domestic swine farms, domestic swine being allowed to run loose where feral swine are present or fence contact of feral with domestic swine have all been shown to be the source of new domestic swine herd infections.  When found infected domestic swine herds are placed under quarantine and required to test and remove infected swine or depopulate, clean up and restock with negative swine.   Twenty five percent of the state`s domestic swine herds are tested annually for surveillance purposes.

Feral swine on all of the major islands except for Lanai where no feral swine exist and Molokai are known to be infected with pseudorabies.  Infection rate in feral swine is lowest on Maui at three percent but infection levels on the other major islands range from 20 to 40 percent.

Locally dogs, particularly hunting dogs do get infected with pseudorabies after coming in contact with infected feral swine.  Contact with saliva, blood or the feeding of raw organs or meat have all been implicated as means by which dogs have been infected.  Once these dogs get infected there is no treatment and death typically occurs with 48-72 hours after symptoms appear.