Emerging Diseases of Pigs


Biosecurity, both as a country and on farm, is paramount as pressure rises from diseases not seen in the UK before and our endeavours to reduce antibiotic usage. Be aware that viruses can survive for several days on clothes, muddy boots etc. Pig meat products must not be taken on to a unit at any time (African Swine Fever can survive for 150 days in dried pork products).

African Swine Fever (ASF)

ASF has been on the industry radar for quite a long time. It is a particularly virulent disease, which spreads quickly through herds when they become infected, causing fever, inappetence, haemorrhages on the skin and internal organs and death within 10 days. Mortality rate can be as high as 100% and it can affect pigs of any age. It is well established in Europe now, with the wild boar population providing a reservoir for infection. It encroaches ever closer and has now been isolated in Belgium, so we must be extra vigilant and bio-secure.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrohea virus (PEDv)

Historically PEDv was a short-lived disease causing diarrhoea, vomiting and loss of condition in weaners, but not usually fatal. A new variant was recognised in 2013 which causes very severe disease affecting all age groups of pigs, with 100% mortality in baby pigs due to dehydration. Scour and vomiting in adults is dramatic, although generally non-fatal. This new variant spread through the USA, China and now parts of Europe, which is why we are concerned with it. It has not been diagnosed in the UK as yet and is a notifiable disease. There is free testing available if the disease is suspected.

Porcine Reproductive & Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS)

PRRS is endemic across the UK. The vaccine for this disease has meant a dramatic reduction in the consequences of the disease since it arrived in the UK in the 90s. However, it is extremely labile and constantly changing, sometimes undermining the efficacy of the vaccines. I include PRRS in this article about emerging diseases as there seems to have been a resurgence in the number of diagnoses recently around the country.