COMMON CAUSES OF SUDDEN DEATH IN FINISHING PIGS
There are a variety of conditions that cause sudden death in finishing pigs. In general, sudden death in finishing pigs can be divided into enteric (gut) conditions, respiratory (lung) infections and individual pig events. Enteric conditions would include ileitis, hemorrhagic bowel syndrome (HBS), twisted gut and stomach ulcers. Respiratory infections would include Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia and Actinobacillus suis. There are many individual pig events, such as electrocution, trauma, aneurysms, etc., that are not group issues.
- Acute ileitis can be seen throughout the finishing period, and should not be confused with chronic ileitis that causes diarrhea in all ages of finishing pigs. With acute ileitis, pigs may show no signs of diarrhea at all. If there is any diarrhea, it is a black, tarry feces and not the feed-colored diarrhea associated with chronic ileitis.
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- Stomach ulcers can be very slow to develop or happen quite rapidly. In many chronic cases, clinical signs will consist of pigs losing weight. These pigs appear pale. With the sudden deaths due to ulcers, the ulcer erodes into a blood vessel and the pigs bleed out into the stomach. On postmortem examination, these are good-looking pigs with stomachs that are filled with a large blood clot, and die prior to passing significant amounts of blood into the intestinal tract.
- Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia (APP) and Actinobacillus suis (AS) are bacterial infections of the lungs that cause sudden death in all ages of swine. Both organisms can cause numerous deaths at a single visit. With APP, it is common to see pigs that have recently died with blood coming from the nose. On postmortem examination, at least one lung will have a distinct hemorrhagic lesion. AS causes a more dispersed lung lesion, and the organism is found in many organs.
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