Disease Problems

Disease Problems

Where there is a large number of pigs present on a property or a high risk of outbreaks, vaccinations should routinely be given. The most common vaccines used are Leptospirosis (abortion), Parvovirus (abortion), and Erysipelothrix (arthritis) every 6 months. Other diseases that can be vaccinated against include E coli scours, Tetanus, Mycoplasma pneumonia, and Haemophilus pneumonia.

The site for giving injections in pigs is in the side of the neck a few inches behind the ear. In this area the skin is not as tough and the tissue not as fatty, so you are less likely to bend the needle!

Diarrhoea can be caused by dietary upsets or infections and in some cases such as in very young piglets it can be so severe or serious that it is life threatening.

Dietary causes – sudden change in diet, undiluted milk, or too much fat in the diet.

Infectious causes – E. coli bacteria scours, Rota virus and other miscellaneous viruses and bacteria. Infections can cause a serious outbreak with whole litter affected.

Internal parasites in rare cases can cause diarrhoea but are usually only a contributing cause and not the main cause.

If pigs with diarrhoea are quieter than normal, have a reduced appetite, or have blood in the diarrhoea, they need prompt treatment with antibiotics and electrolytes.

Respiratory Diseases
There are a range of viruses and bacteria causing pneumonia, bronchitis, and nasal cavity infections. Rapid or laboured breathing usually means a very serious illness, and needs immediate treatment. Coughing may be caused by bronchitis or pneumonia but may also be due to lungworm infection.

The infection can cause kidney problems, generalised illness, or sows to abort if they develop the infection during early pregnancy. Although infections of the Leptospirosis bacteria are not common in pigs, it is recognised as a health hazard to people dealing with pigs and cattle. It is recommended that all pigs exhibited at shows be vaccinated against Lepto. The initial vaccination is given at weaning, followed by a booster 4 weeks later, then every 6 months.

There are 3 main infectious agents that can cause abortions or the birth of very weak piglets – Parvovirus, Toxoplasmosis, and Leptospirosis. Where a large number of pigs are kept it is often advisable to vaccinate against Lepto and Parvovirus. Toxins of certain fungi in cereal-based food can also cause abortions. Always handle any stillborn piglets or aborted material with care because of the risk of Lepto.

Infection in the mammary glands can occur before or after farrowing. When there is infection present the glands are swollen, hot and painful. The most common times that mastitis occurs are within a few days of farrowing or at weaning time. Treatment with antibiotics is needed to clear the infection. Following mastitis there is usually quite a reduction in the amount of milk produced – there may not be sufficient milk for the piglets if the mastitis occurs soon after farrowing.

This is a fungal infection common in young piglets – it occurs as crusty areas, mainly on the legs. Treat with topical Iodine.

These occur mainly in winter as lice breed more in cold weather. The infection can be picked up from other pigs such as at shows or from new pigs introduced onto the property. Lice are host specific, so pigs will only get pig lice breeding on them. The lice are rather large and brown and move around when disturbed. The lice lay their eggs on the hair on the sides of the lower neck and at the back of the legs, the eggs look like cream spots stuck to the hair. Treatment is topical insecticide such as louse powder Ivomec injection.

Occurring mainly in summer, mange looks like crusty reddened areas especially around the head and legs. In piglets it can be very severe, as they don’t have much immunity to it, so they can end up with dry crusty areas all over their body as well as general symptoms of poor growth rate and ill thrift. Treatment is topical insecticidal wash or Ivomec injection.

Greasy Pig Disease
A bacterial infection of the skin, mainly in young pigs in warm humid climates. The skin is reddened, crusty and weeping, and often the piglet shows generalised poor health. Treatment is antibiotics and topical antiseptics.

Congenital Abnormalities
Sometimes piglets are born with deformities that are incompatible with normal life, and these include such things as cleft palate and absence of the anus. Other abnormalities that occur more commonly are umbilical or scrotal hernias – these pigs should not be bred from as these conditions are often inherited.

There are 4 types of worms in pigs – intestinal roundworms, stomach worms, lungworms, and kidney worms. The most common, problems with worms are usually intestinal roundworms in young pigs. Ivomec injection or oral wormers can be used to treat worms. Piglets should be treated at weaning, 1 month later, then again 3 months later. Adults are ideally treated twice a year, with sows treated pre-mating and pre-farrowing.