Top Piglet Diarrheas

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Which pig diarrhea costs nearly $1.8 billion per year in losses?

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Neonatal diarrhea is a classic topic for NAVLE® questions.

Zuku's Top Piglet Diarrheas To Know For Boards Success

  • Categorization of piglet diarrheas
    Diseases that are particularly characteristic are denoted with an asterisk

    Normal pig feces

    Hypersecretory diarrhea can be yellow in color

    1-3 d piglets are more susceptible to C. perfringens type C

    The many different diarrhea appearances due to swine dysentery.
    Image used with permission, courtesy of The Pig Site

  • DISTINGUISHING characteristic?
    • Sudden outbreak affecting many litters?
      • TGE
      • Epidemic diarrhea
    • Vomiting?
      • *TGE
      • Porcine epidemic diarrhea
    • Hemorrhagic diarrhea?
      • *C. perfringens type C
      • E. coli
      • Threadworm
      • Proliferative enteritis
      • T. suis
    • White scours? Think E. coli
    • Creamy diarrhea?
      • *Rotavirus
      • Campylobacter
    • Watery, pasty diarrhea?
      • *Proliferative enteritis
      • Coccidiosis
      • Salmonellosis
      • C. difficile
    • Mucohemorrhagic diarrhea?
      • *Swine dysentery
      • T. suis
    • Profuse, watery diarrhea in piglets less than 7 d?
      • *TGE
      • *E. coli
      • Rotavirus
    • Rectal stricture? Salmonellosis
    • The top piglet diarrheas

      Gram stain of C. perfringens

      Loose feces dribbling from the anus in a case of swine dysentery.
      Image used with permission, courtesy of The Pig Site

      Sloppy diarrhea due to porcine proliferative enteritis.
      Image used with permission, courtesy of The Pig Site

      • Classic case:
        • All causes:
          • Diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy, weakness
          • Decreased nursing/appetite
          • Piglets huddling together, shivering
          • Piglet found dead
          • +/- Colic and vomiting
        • 2-10 d old: C. perfringens type C:
          • Hemorrhagic diarrhea
          • Sudden onset, high mortality
        • Less than 3 wk old: TGE:
          • Profuse, watery diarrhea
          • Spreads rapidly
          • Vomiting
          • High mortality
        • 5 d - 3 wk old: Rotavirus:
          • White/yellow diarrhea
          • Self-limiting, rarely fatal
        • 7-16 wk old: Swine dysentery:
          • Mucohemorrhagic enteritis
          • Anorexia, dehydration, emaciation
          • Poor growth rate
        • Weaned and older; esp. growing-finishing (40- 80-lb): Porcine proliferative enteritis:
          • Abdominal distention
          • Scrotal edema
          • Subclinical: Weight loss
          • Acute: Hemorrhagic diarrhea
          • Chronic: Diarrhea, wasting
        • Healthiest pigs 1-2 wk after weaning: E. coli:
          • Watery diarrhea
          • Severe, acute
          • Peracute death
          • +/- Neurologic signs
          • +/- Vomiting
        • All age groups: Salmonellosis:
          • Nursing pigs: Foul-smelling diarrhea, death
          • Older pigs: Foul-smelling diarrhea, fever
          • Septicemia
          • Red/purple discoloration of ears and ventral abdomen
          • Chronic enteritis, rectal strictures
      • Dx:
        • Etiologies:
          • C. perfringens: Anaerobic, gram-positive; releases beta toxin that causes villi necrosis in the upper jejunum
          • Enteric colibacillosis: Enterotoxigenic E. coli that produces Shiga toxin
          • Porcine proliferative enteritis: Lawsonia intracellularis, an intracellular, gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium
          • Salmonellosis: Most common is Salmonella Choleraesuis kunzendorf
          • Swine dysentery: Brachyspira (Serpulina) hyodysenteriae, an anaerobic spirochete that elaborates a hemolysin
          • TGE: Coronavirus that affects the jejunum and ileum
        • PCR feces (enteric colibacillosis, TGE, swine dysentery)
        • Culture feces (salmonellosis, enteric colibacillosis)
        • Toxin analysis (ELISA) on feces (C. perfringens, rotavirus)
        • Direct smear of colon scraping (swine dysentery)
        • Latex agglutination for antigen in feces (rotavirus)
        • Necropsy (IFA: porcine proliferative enteritis)
      • Rx:
        • Bacterial: Antibiotics
        • Add electrolytes to water
        • Heat lamp
        • Shavings/straw/bedding in pen to absorb
        • Preventive measures for piglets:
          • Use all-in-all-out
          • Maintain farrowing facility in top shape: Clean, dry, warm, good ventilation, proper density, low stress, sanitize in between
          • Antitoxin: C. perfringens
          • Prophylactic antibiotics
          • Vaccination: Coronavirus, Salmonella
          • Good biosecurity
          • Don't skimp on heat lamps! Cold piglets are a big risk factor!
          • Ensure adequate colostrum in first 12 h
        • Preventive measures for dams: Increase immunity
          • Acclimate new dams for 3-6 wks prior to breeding
          • Vaccination: E. coli, C. perfringens, rotavirus, coronavirus
          • Feed them farrowing house waste (TGE, E. coli)
          • Purchase single-source breeding stock that is disease-free
      • Pearls:
        • Zoonotic!
          • Salmonellosis
          • Clostridiosis
          • E. coli
    • Spotlight on TGE

      Transmission electron micrograph of a coronavirus

      Maternal antibodies can temporarily protect piglets against TGE

      • Classic case:
        • Naïve herds:
          • Vomiting!
          • Profuse, explosive, watery diarrhea
          • Increased drinking
          • Nursing piglets:
            • Diarrhea with undigested milk curds
            • Shivering
            • Almost 100% mortality in piglets less than 1 wk old
          • Sows:
            • Abortion
            • Agalactia
        • Endemic herds: Depends on immunity and exposure
          • Variable vomiting and diarrhea
          • Piglets show signs as maternal antibodies wane
      • Dx:
        • Etiology: Highly contagious enteropathic coronavirus (closely related to porcine respiratory coronavirus) that is shed in high numbers in feces
        • Presumptive based on clinical signs
        • Necropsy:
          • Distended, thin-walled small intestine with villous atrophy
          • Fluorescent antibody or immunohistochemistry on small intestine
        • PCR on feces from live pigs
      • Rx:
        • Supportive care
        • Increase farrowing room temperature
        • Provide electrolyte water
        • +/- Administer swine immunoglobulins
        • Wean older piglets to reduce mortality
        • Prevention: Need IgA in small intestine
          • Vaccinate sows to protect neonates
          • Feed TGE-infected small intestinal tissue to pregnant sows 2-4 wks prior to farrowing
          • Susceptible to iodine-based disinfectants, quaternary ammonia, and peroxygen compounds
          • Maintain closed herd
          • All-in-all-out, strict biosecurity
      • Pearls:
        • Most often occurs in colder months
        • Very short incubation period: 18 h - 3 d
        NEWS FLASH: Important emerging disease!
      • Porcine epidemic diarrhea

        Map of confirmed porcine epidemic diarrhea cases 2014-2015 (click to enlarge)

        • Classic case:
          • Type I:
            • Growing pigs
            • Acute, watery diarrhea (no blood or mucus)
            • Abdominal pain
            • +/-Vomiting
          • Type II:
            • All ages, from suckling piglets to mature sows
            • Watery diarrhea
            • Mortality in neonates is about 50%
        • Dx:
          • Etiology: Coronavirus unrelated to TGE coronavirus, but more similar to the feline infectious peritonitis virus
          • Clinical signs can be difficult to distinguish from TGE
          • Necropsy:
            • *Acute necrosis of back muscle
            • Distended small intestines filled with yellow fluid
            • PCR +/- direct immunofluorescence of small intestine or colon
            • ELISA on feces is useful in older pigs
        • Rx:
          • Supportive care
          • Increase farrowing room temperature
          • Provide electrolyte water
          • Withhold feed from finishing pigs for 1-2 d
          • Prevention:
            • Planned sow herd infection
            • All-in-all-out, strict biosecurity
        • Pearls:
          • Initially seen in the United Kingdom in 1971; first confirmed in U.S. on May 17, 2013 in Iowa swine
          • Causes an estimated annual economic impact of almost $1.8 billion in the U.S.
          • The coronavirus is spread by fecal:oral transmission and by fomites

      Images courtesy of Petr Kratochvil (cute piglet at top), Juan Lacruz (normal feces), L. Mahin (yellow diarrhea), Joy Schoenberger (1-3 d piglets), CDC (C. perfringens), Keith Weller/USDA (sow and piglets under TGE), NIH (coronavirus), US Government Accountability Office (porcine epidemic diarrhea map), and woodleywonderworks (bottom suckling piglets).