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Pig health experts advise on rare cases

Pig health experts advise on rare cases

The second quarter of 2020 revealed some rare health challenges that Canadian producers should be aware of 

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer

Swine health officials from across Canada have a few swine health notes from the second quarter of this year. Most of the usual pig disease challenges are within normal ranges, however, there are a few rarities producers should be aware of, Dr. Jette Christensen, manager of Canada West Swine Health Intelligence Network (CWSHIN), told

First of all, CWSHIN gathered reports of purple sows in Canada. The discolouration appears to be “a clinical sign and, as far as we can see, it is extremely rare,” Christensen explained. The group surveyed producers and veterinarians, and few had observed the phenomenon. Vets who had assessed or treated purple sows submitted detailed reports.  

“It was very clear that you could see these signs of discolouring of the skin for multiple reasons,” Christensen explained. The cases “were very different. It seems that there are many different pathogens that (may) give that sign. And that also means that in some cases you see mortality … whereas in other cases they recovered within a week.”

Producers should keep an eye out for this sign, since the severity of the outcome on the health of pigs can range so widely. Swine health officials want to investigate further to understand more.

“We encourage (farmers) to, if they see it, call their vets so we can get a better sense of what it is. There is no reason to be alarmed or thinking that there’s something new spreading,” Christensen said.

Producers should so keep an eye out for respiratory distress in their herds, she added.

In the second quarter, veterinarians detected “severe lung disease … where it was caused by Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia (APP),” she explained. APP is a bacteria that can have a fast and deadly impact on pigs’ breathing.

“The incubation period, the period from when they get infected until they show clinical signs, can be extremely short. It’s usually about 12 hours to three days,” Christensen explained. “If it’s 12 hours and you have it latent or hidden in your herd, you ship a bunch of pigs off to the slaughter plant, and the stress going to slaughter can be enough that these pigs will look healthy, showing no signs, until … they get to the inspection and then they get condemned.”

In some cases, producers “want to make sure that this disease is not sneaking into your herd,” she said. APP is rare and looks different from other respiratory illness.

“When I’ve seen it, they’re sitting on their hind legs … open mouth, breathing heavily, and you can see the flanks pumping. When you go into the barn you can hear the pigs cough. It’s a short cough,” rather than a continuous cough heard with other respiratory diseases, Christensen explained. “You really don’t want it in your barn.”

Swine health experts are also reminding producers to remain vigilant about their biosecurity protocols. Veterinarians reported three (two were related) new cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea in Manitoba, however, it seems to be well-contained, Christensen said.

“It’s very pertinent for all producers to have a look at their biosecurity in the sense that they need to have a very good barrier between wild pigs and their farm pigs,” she added.

“In June there was one wild pig in Oregon that had pseudorabies. … Not that Oregon is very close to a big concentration of farm pigs in Canada, but still, it’s a reminder that you really want to have a good, solid, effective barrier between wild pigs and your domestic pigs.”

dusanpetkovic\iStock\Getty Images Plus photo

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