Swine dysentery

Swine dysentery is a bacterial disease that affects growers, finishers and younger breeding stock, with low to moderate mortality.

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What is swine dysentery?

Confirmed case of swine dysentery: a positive laboratory diagnosis by culture and/or PCR of Brachyspira hyodysenteriae in the presence of clinical signs of diarrhoea in the pigs.

Swine dysentery causes weight loss, which severely limits productivity.

Diarrhoea can contain blood and/or mucus but not in all cases.

Swine dysentery tends to cause most obvious disease in growers, finishers and younger breeding stock, with low to moderate mortality.

How is swine dysentery spread?

Infected pigs, their dung and anything contaminated with dung (e.g. vehicles, boots and equipment) can easily spread infection between farms.

Why should I be concerned?

Pigs that survive infection require treatment, take longer to reach slaughter weight and compromise the farm’s productivity and competitiveness.

The disease is a particular threat to farms selling pigs for breeding; if these become infected, their international and UK trade is devastated.

An infected pig farm threatens other local farms but also farms in other regions, due to the spread on vehicles or by pig movements.

Resistance to the limited range of treatments for swine dysentery is increasing. There have been cases where the swine dysentery organism is resistant to all available treatments and complete depopulation has been the only way to control disease on these farms and prevent spread.

Podcast: Why is swine dysentery becoming more of a concern?

What can I do to prevent swine dysentery?

Make use of our free resources, which are invaluable to your biosecurity plan.

  • The Significant Diseases Charter plays an important role in sharing information quickly in the event of an outbreak
  • AHDB Pig Hub has a biosecurity risk assessment, with feedback available following completion of the assessment

We have much more information on biosecurity, including policies for visitors and vehicles. Read more by clicking the link below.

Read more about Biosecurity on pig farms

Implement-lorry washing standards

Abattoirs are a high-risk area for cross-contamination of vehicles, but this can be prevented with effective cleaning and disinfection.

The British Quality Assured Pork assurance scheme requires pig lorries to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before leaving the abattoir.

Always turn away a dirty lorry if it arrives on your unit

Take all precautions to prevent entry of diseases such as swine dysentery and, if you see suspicious signs, contact your veterinary surgeon immediately.

What should I do if I suspect swine dysentery?

If you see unexplained diarrhoea and wasting, especially if the diarrhoea contains blood or mucus, contact your vet immediately for advice.

Diagnosis is achieved by submitting faeces or pigs for testing. Prompt diagnosis is important so that suitable control measures are quickly implemented to limit the spread of the infection.

Useful links

Biosecurity on pig farms

Significant diseases charter

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