Pigs common diseases you need to know

This pig diseases guide is a reference list of pig diseases commonly encountered. It is not intended as an aid for diagnosing pig diseases but is intended to provide basic information about diseases that pork producers should be aware of. We recommend consulting a veterinarian for diagnosing, treating and controlling disease in the pig herd. The recognition of disease is extremely important to keep adverse effects on production and economic losses to a minimum.

When an antibiotic is used to treat and control a disease, the user must understand the reasons for its use, the correct dose rate and the antibiotic’s withholding period (the minimum period that must elapse between the last use of the antibiotic and the slaughter of the treated animal). Where antibiotics are listed in this guide, the abbreviations following them stand for:

  • I – injectable
  • O – oral
  • W – in-water medication
  • F – in-feed medication.

Other chemicals, such as miticides, wormers and others, also have withholding periods that must be heeded to prevent the detection of chemical residues in pork.

Where vaccines for the prevention of disease are listed, they must be used according to manufacturers’ recommendations or optimum vaccine antibody protection will not be produced and disease breakdowns may occur.


Table 1. Diseases of the pre-weaning period

DiseaseMajor signsTreatmentPreventionComments
Colibacillosis (E. coli)Diarrhoea (scours) ; sudden deathFluid therapy; antibiotics (I,O,W); warmthImprove hygiene; vaccinate sow/gilts; provide a warm clean creep areaCoccidiosis may be involved
CoccidiosisDiarrhoea at 10-21 days of ageFluid therapy; coccidiostatsImprove hygiene; provide a warm, clean creep area
Overlay / traumaSudden deathNoneProvide a warm, clean creep area; check farrowing crate design
Starvation (hypo-glycaemia)Weakness; deathDextrose solutions; supplementary feedingImprove sow’s milk supplyEnsure gilts have adequate functional teats
StillbirthsBorn deadNoneVarious methodsMany causes; consult a veterinarian
Miscellaneous infectionsLameness; sudden deathAntibiotics (I)Improve hygiene; repair flooringInfection due to bacteria; swollen joints commonly seen
Exudative epidermitis (greasy pig)Skin lesions; deathAntibiotics; skin protectant; vitaminsImprove hygiene; provide a dry, warm, clean creep area; prevent skin abrasionsStaphylococcus hyicus infection


Table 2. Diseases of the post-weaning period

DiseaseMajor signsTreatmentPreventionComment
Colibacillosis (E. coli)Diarrhoea ; sudden deathFluid therapy; antibioticsVaccinate; improve hygiene; provide warmth for weaners; reduce stress at weaningA common and expensive problem
Respiratory diseaseCoughing; sneezing; reduced growth rate; sometimes deathAntibiotics (I,W,F); improved ventilation and environmentImprove ventilation; reduce stocking density; reduce stress; antibiotics; vaccinateEnzootic pneumonia; pleuropneumonia ; pasteurellosis; Glasser’s disease ; Streptococcus suis
Swine dysenteryDiarrhoea with blood; diarrhoea; reduced growth rates; deathAntibiotics (I,W,F); reduced stocking densityImprove hygiene; antibiotics (F)Avoid purchasing infected pigs; control rodents
Proliferative enteropathy (PE)(ileitis)Diarrhoea with blood; diarrhoea; reduced growth rate; sudden deathAntibiotics (I,W,F); iron; vitamin BAntibiotics (F)Three main syndromes affecting different aged pigs
Sarcoptic mangeItching; dermatitis; rubbing; scratching; reduced growth rateMiticidal sprays; pour-ons; injection and in-feed premixStrategically treat breeder pigs and weaners/growersMay go unnoticed in a herd; may add to pneumonia problems; pigs of all ages can be affected
Intestinal torsionSudden deathDiet manipulationNoneA common cause of death in some herds
Gastric ulcerationLoss of appetite; vomiting; deathRarely effectiveManipulate diet, including feed coarseness; reduce stress; reduce diseaseProbably feed and disease related; can affect pigs of any age
ErysipelasArthritis; skin lesions; reduced growth rate; condemnations at slaughterAntibiotics (I)VaccinateMost losses occur between two and six months of age
Internal parasites (worms)Diarrhoea; reduced growth rate; pneumoniaParasiticides in-feed or injectionParasiticidesRoundworm; whipworm; kidney worm
Exudative epidermitis
(greasy pig)
Skin lesions; deathAntibiotics; skin protectant; vitaminsImprove hygiene; provide a dry, warm, clean weaner pen; prevent skin abrasionsStaphylococcus hyicus infection


Table 3. Diseases of breeder pigs

DiseaseMajor signsTreatmentPreventionComment
Farrowing sickness (mastitis, metritis, agalactia – MMA)Reduced milk production; loss of appetite; higher body temperatureAntibiotics (I,W,F); oxytocin; anti-inflammatory drugsReduce feeding prior to farrowing; ensure good hygiene in farrowing crate; reduce stress on sowsReduces number of pigs weaned per sow; infection due to bacteria
LamenessPremature culling; reduced herd fertilityRarely effectiveImprove floor design; control erysipelas; prevent injuries; reduce conformation defectsRegularly check breeder pigs for leg lesions
Porcine parvovirusMummification; returns to service; stillborn and weak-born pigletsNoneVaccinateEndemic and epidemic forms of this disease; fewer pigs sold per sow a year
Vaginal discharge syndromeReproductive tract infectionsAntibiotics (I,W,F); antibiotic treatment of boar’s prepuceCull affected animals; improve hygiene of mating pens and dry-sow shedCaused by bacteria and poor hygiene
Bladder infection (cystitis)
Kidney infection
Blood-stained urine
Reluctance to stand; sudden death
Antibiotics (I,W,F)
Antibiotic infection of boar’s prepuce
Increase water intake; improve hygiene in dry sow shed
Boars transmit bacteria to sows and gilts at mating
LeptospirosisStillborn or weakborn pigs; abortion; returns to serviceAntibiotics (I,W,F)VaccinateCan also affect humans
ErysipelasAbortions; reproductive failureAntibiotics (I,W,F)VaccinateCan also cause arthritis and skin lesions
Gastric torsion (see intestinal torsion )Sudden deathNoneFeed twice or three times per day; do not overfeed hungry pigsCommonly seen when level of feeding is increased
Gastric ulcersLoss of appetite; vomiting; depraved appetite; blood in dung; sudden deathAntibiotics (I); wet feedInvestigate feed, fineness, crude fibre and vitamin E/selenium; reduce stressCan occur in pigs of any age