Pig diseases the small producer should know
Pig diseases in the pre-weaning stage
1. Exudative dermatitis (greasy pig disease)
This disease is caused by an infection with the Staphylococcus hyicus bacteria and it manifests through skin lesions. Mortality can occur due to greasy pig disease in severe cases that are left untreated. The lesions first appear as dark spots on the skin, which spread and become flaky, with a greasy feel.
The infection is treated with antibiotics, skin protectants, and autogenous vaccines. One of the best prevention methods is to improve hygiene conditions in the piglet housing areas. It is also recommended to perform teat dipping on the sows as well as pre- and post-farrowing. By reducing the potential of skin abrasions, the infection is prevented from entering the piglet’s system. Skin abrasions can be caused by rough floors, sharp equipment, jagged teeth or mites’ bites.
Coccidiosis is very common in suckling pigs, being caused by three types of the coccidia intercellular parasite. The main symptom is diarrhea, which can also be bloody and it occurs during between 10 and 21 days of age and up to 15 weeks of age. Acute cases can be treated with coccidiostats and fluid therapy. Because the intestinal wall can be damaged in some cases, secondary infections may occur.
Pig diseases in the post-weaning stage
1. Respiratory diseases
The most common symptoms of respiratory diseases are coughing, sneezing, heavy breathing, reduced growth, and even mortality. To treat this type of diseases, antibiotics are often given in feed or water or as injectable substances. Certain environmental conditions or poor ventilation can worsen respiratory diseases or help spread them. For example, high levels of ammonia found in the environment can damage the respiratory tract and thus making pigs more prune to infections.
Among the infectious agents responsible for the occurrence of respiratory diseases are Streptococcus suis and Pasteurella. Some forms of pneumonia can be prevented through vaccines, but it’s important to identify the strain present on a farm to fight against this disease in an efficient way. Especially pleuropneumonia, caused by Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae can cause a high mortality rate and the surviving pigs suffer from reduced growth rate and lung damage. Along with the presence of respiratory viruses, overcrowded and dirty housing are predisposing factors for respiratory diseases.
2. Swine dysentery
Pigs that suffer from dysentery have diarrhea, with or without the presence of blood. This disease is caused by the bacteria Brachyspira hyodsenteriae. Pigs that suffer from dysentery in the post-weaning stage have reduced growth rate; in more severe cases sudden death can occur.
Swine dysentery is also treated with antibiotics which are given through feed or water, or as injectable substances. To reduce the infection, it’s recommended to reduce the stock density. Improving hygiene and rodent control can also significantly help prevent and reduce the potential of infection. Rodents are important when it comes to the spreading of swine dysentery. The disease can occur when new stock is introduced on the farm, so it’s important to always buy pigs from reliable sources and to request a thorough medical check-up.
Read also: Important infectious diseases of pigs
Pig diseases in the breeding stage
Mastitis is a disease present in sows and it has symptoms such as reduced milk production, higher body temperature and loss of appetite. The disease is caused by a bacterial infection of the mammary glands, where skin discolorations can be observed. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are the most efficient treatment for mastitis. Usually, a combination of oxytocin and corticosteroids is prescribed to treat mastitis.
Like in the case of other pig diseases, improving hygiene in farrowing houses is extremely important. Healthy nutrition during the late pregnancy stage is an important factor to increase immunity. Stress is also considered a factor in the occurrence of mastitis, especially if the teats may suffer damages in the sow housing facilities. Mastitis has an important effect on productivity because the number of piglets weaned by sows can be significantly reduced.
2. Porcine parvovirus
Pregnant sows can become infected with the parvovirus (PVV) and in some cases, reproductive diseases can occur. Usually, the reproductive disease occurs in gilts, the reproductive performance being overall affected. Pig litters are decreased in size because of stillbirths and mummification. The parvovirus is somewhat more difficult to diagnose because other reproductive diseases present similar symptoms. The virus can survive outside its host for several months.
PPV is problematic usually during pregnancies, but other pigs can also spread the disease. As there are no treatments for this disease, prevention is extremely important, through regular vaccination of gilts.
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