Diarrhea in New Born Piglets

March 25, 2022, 12:30 pm

Diarrhea in new born piglets is often a problem in sow herds. From day 2 of lactation until day 7 it can affect up to 90% of the farm. It occurs mainly in gilts with more than 50% incidence, but also occurs in multiparous sows with more than 30-35% incidence, affecting mainly 2nd and 6th parity sows’. The balance between infection pressure, immunity, genetics, feeding, environment, etc. is unique for each farm.

Different types of Clostridium and Coli are most of the times found in new born piglets with diarrhea. They are belonging to the microbiome and become often a problem when gut cells rupture due to Coccidia or Rotavirus infections and when milk/feed is not digested. When that happens, pathogens grow and become a bigger part of the microbiome and the problem increases.

The main strains of Clostridium found on farms are Clostridium perfringens Type A and Type C. The Toxins produced by these bacteria are the cause of damage to the intestinal mucosa.

E.coli attach themselves to the gut surface by adhesins. For E.coli the main strains found on farm are the enterotoxin producing E.coli (ETEC) bacteria. They produce mainly heat stable toxins which either reduce fluid excretion or increase fluid excretion from the gut. Acute problems were always treated with antibiotics in the past. Due to resistance for main antibiotics the focus these days is more preventive by using standard vaccines or auto vaccines produced from isolates from the farm.

Coccidia infection is a well-known cause of diarrhea in young piglets. Coccidiosis is caused by an internal microscopic protozoan parasite; the species found in young pigs is Isospora suis. Once oocysts are ingested by the piglet they begin a maturation process whilst moving down towards the small intestine. In the small intestine, these coccidia enter the intestinal wall and undergo multiple stages of their life cycle. After 5 to 7 days of infection, the coccidia re-emerge from the intestinal wall as oocysts and are excreted back into the external environment. This mass emergence of mature coccidia from the intestinal wall causes diarrhea. This can be treated very well with a coccidiostat, though there is research that resistance exists.

PED (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea) is a viral disease in pigs with diarrhea caused by damaging mucosa in the small intestine. Mortality is high due to dehydration. There is no medication or vaccine available in Europe for PED. Though autovaccines are a possibility.

Rotavirus is a problem which is often overlooked because it is not easy to eradicate and it is very contagious. It is hard to destroy with acids, disinfectants or high temperatures. There are 5 different types of Rotavirus for pigs. Mostly type A and C are found, where type A is the one which is causing most of the time problems.

Piglets with Rotavirus show diarrhea and sometimes vomiting of non-digested milk. Even with lamps and floor heating systems piglets are cold and are often laying on top of the sow. They are also more dirty compared to the other types of diarrhea. Their intestinal villi will be destroyed and digestion of milk or feed is poor.

Rotavirus is a common problem on pig farms where antibiotic treatment is only useful to treat secondary infections mainly due to E. coli. There are a few vaccines which can be used (type A) which give protection through colostrum and you can give feedback treatment with manure of contaminated pigs to sows which protects the piglets during lactation. Also the introduction of gilts and colostrum management are important factors in prevention of severe symptoms.

In case of diarrhea one should always check for Rotavirus besides common bacterial strains!

Hygiene is in all cases important. All in – all out, cleaning all material used (drinkers, feeding bowls) removing organic material and biofilm before disinfecting, etc. Problems with disinfecting occur when there are not enough rooms available for farrowing sows and sows enter in recently not thoroughly disinfected rooms.

Doublecheck water quality at tap points where Tonisity Px is mixed for piglets and at the end of the line where piglets drink water. Use a filter if necessary. Also check waterflow in weaner houses after weaning. Due to construction of the water system, after feeding sows or during cleaning, waterflow can be very low. Piglets need water to grow.

Further see also the trials (scientific research, Dropbox) which we have conducted in time: Effect of Tonisity Px on Suckling Pig Mortality and Weaning Weight [15-012-P-R], Effect on Intestinal Microbiome [18-020-P-R], New Information on Intestinal Histology, Microbiology and VFA Production [18-126-P-R], Tonisity Px Administration to Sows and Their Piglets [17-021-P-R], Tonisity Px in Piglets with Scour [15-004-P-R], Palatability of Water-soluble Antibiotic In Nursery Pigs [16-014-P-R].

Sources: PIG333, Royal GD, Laura Greiner CISS, Tonisity R&D
Literature: Kongsted et al. Porcine Health Management (2018), PJ Corns introduction gilts and feedback on farm (2020), Shrestha et al. Parasites & Vectors (2017), Rotaviral Enteritis Iowa State University, Chris Schouten, Advee, magazine Varkensbedrijf article (2018).

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