Edema disease of pigs (piglets): treatment and prevention

Edema disease of pigs (piglets): treatment and prevention

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Piglet edema is the reason for the sudden death of vigorous and well-fed young pigs, who "have everything." The owner takes care of his piglets, provides them with all the necessary feeding, and they die. It is unlikely that a consolation here will be the fact that lambs and kids also have a similar disease under the same name.

Causative agent of the disease

Scientists themselves have not yet come to a consensus about which microorganism causes edematous disease in piglets. But most researchers "vote" for the fact that these are beta-hemolytic toxigenic colibacteria that cause specific poisoning of the body. Because of this, the edematous disease received in veterinary medicine the name "enterotoxemia" (Morbus oedematosus porcellorum). Sometimes the disease is also called paralytic toxicosis. But among the people the name "edematous disease" has stuck more.

Causes of occurrence

The reasons for the development of enterotoxemia are no less mysterious than the true pathogen. If it is known about the causative agent of enterotoxemia that this is one of the types of bacteria that constantly live in the intestines, then the reason with a high degree of probability can be called a decrease in immunity.

Attention! With a decrease in immunity, pathogenic microflora begins to multiply in the first place.

But the trigger for the drop in the resistance of the organism in piglets can be:

  • weaning stress;
  • premature weaning, when the intestines and the body's defense systems have not yet fully developed;
  • poor content;
  • lack of walking;
  • poor quality feeding.

Even a simple transfer of a pig from one pen to another can cause stress, which will lead to a decrease in immunity.

Active bacteria of enterotoxemia can be brought in by a recovered piglet. The situation is like with human tuberculosis: all people have a certain amount of Koch's rods in the lungs and on the skin. The bacteria are not harmful as long as the body can defend itself or until a person with an open form of the disease appears nearby. That is, there will be a source of a large number of active bacteria nearby. In the case of edematous disease, such a "fountain" of active bacteria is a recovered piglet.

Who is at risk: piglets or pigs

In fact, the carriers of colibacteria in safe quantities for the body are all pigs on the planet. The disease is common throughout the world. But not everyone gets sick with enterotoxemia. Well-fed and well-developed piglets are most susceptible to disease, but only at certain periods of life:

  • the most common cases are 10-14 days after weaning;
  • second place among suckling pigs;
  • on the third - young animals older than 3 months.

In adult pigs, either the protective functions of the body are developed, or the nervous system is hardened, which does not allow the animal to fall into stress because of any little thing.

How dangerous is the disease

Often, the disease occurs suddenly and the owner does not have time to take action. The usual mortality rate for edematous disease is 80-100%. With the fulminant form, 100% of piglets die. In chronic cases, up to 80% survive, but this form is recorded in "older" pigs with relatively strong immunity.


The reasons why pathogenic bacteria begin to multiply are still not reliably known. It is only assumed that due to disturbances in the feeding regime and the content of colibacteria, they begin to actively multiply in the intestine. In the struggle for living space within the piglet, toxigenic bacteria are replacing beneficial strains of E. coli. Dysbiosis occurs and metabolism is disturbed. Toxins begin to flow from the intestines into the body. The amount of albumin in the blood decreases. This leads to the accumulation of water in the soft tissues, that is, to edema.

The development of enterotoxemia is also facilitated by a violation of the phosphorus-calcium balance: with an increase in the content of phosphorus and magnesium and a decrease in the amount of calcium, it leads to an increase in vascular permeability.


The incubation period lasts only a few hours: from 6 to 10. It is not clear, however, how this period was calculated, if a piglet can get sick at any moment and completely suddenly. The only version: it was infected in laboratory conditions.

But the latent period cannot be long either. It all depends on the rate of reproduction of bacteria, the number of which doubles per day already at a temperature of + 25 ° C. The temperature of a live piglet is much higher, which means that the rate of reproduction of microorganisms increases.

The very first sign of edematous disease is a high temperature (40.5 ° C). After 6-8 hours, it drops to normal. It is difficult for a private owner to catch this moment, as usually people have other things to do. This is the main reason why edematous disease occurs "suddenly".

With the further development of enterotoxemia, other signs of the disease appear:

  • swelling;
  • wobbly gait;
  • constipation or diarrhea;
  • vomiting;
  • loss of appetite;
  • photophobia;
  • minor hemorrhages on the mucous membranes.

But the name "edematous" disease is due to the accumulation of fluid in the subcutaneous tissue. When a piglet becomes ill with enterotoxemia, the following swells:

  • eyelids;
  • forehead;
  • the back of the head;
  • snout;
  • intermaxillary space.

An attentive owner may already notice these symptoms.

Further development of the disease leads to damage to the nervous system. Piglets develop:

  • muscle tremors;
  • increased excitability;
  • movement in a circle;
  • head twitching;
  • the characteristic "sitting dog" posture;
  • "Running" when lying on its side;
  • convulsions due to the most minor irritants.

The arousal stage lasts only 30 minutes. After it comes a state of depression. The piglet no longer cramps over trifles. Instead, he stops responding to sounds and touch, experiencing severe depression. At the stage of depression, piglets develop paralysis and paresis of the legs. Shortly before the death, bruising is noted on the patch, ears, abdomen and legs due to weakening of cardiac activity.

In most cases, the death of piglets occurs 3-18 hours after the onset of signs of edematous disease. Sometimes they can last 2-3 days. Piglets older than 3 months get sick for 5-7 days. Piglets recover rarely, and recovered piglets lag behind in development.


Edema disease can occur in three forms: hyperacute, acute and chronic. Hyperacute is also often called lightning fast for the characteristic sudden death of piglets.

Lightning fast

With the fulminant form, a group of completely healthy piglets, yesterday, completely dies during the next day. This form is found in 2-month-old weaning piglets.

A hyperacute course is usually observed during an epizootic on a farm or in an agricultural complex. Simultaneously with the suddenly dead piglets, stronger individuals "acquire" edema and lesions of the central nervous system.


The most common form of the disease. Piglets live a little longer than in the fulminant form: from several hours to a day. The mortality rate is also slightly lower. Although all piglets on the farm can die, in general, the percentage of deaths as a result of edematous disease is from 90.

With a general description of the symptoms, they are guided by the acute form of the disease. Death with this form of flow occurs from asphyxia, since the affected nervous system no longer conducts signals from the respiratory center of the brain. Heartbeat before death rises to 200 beats / minute. Trying to compensate the body for the lack of oxygen that has ceased to flow from the lungs, the heart speeds up the pumping of blood through the circulatory system.


Piglets older than 3 months are sick. Characterized by:

  • poor appetite;
  • stagnation;
  • depressed state.

Attention! In the chronic form of edematous disease, self-recovery of piglets is possible. But recovered animals lag behind in growth. They may have neck curvature and lameness.

Difficulties in diagnosis

The symptoms of edematous disease are very similar to other ailments of piglets:

  • hypocalcemia;
  • erysipelas;
  • Aujeszky's disease;
  • pasteurellosis;
  • the nervous form of the plague;
  • listeriosis;
  • salt and feed poisoning.

Piglets with edematous disease cannot be distinguished from pigs with other diseases either in the photo or during a real examination. Outward signs are often the same, and it is possible to reliably establish a diagnosis only with pathological studies.


The main difference between edematous disease is that piglets die in good condition. A suspicion of edematous disease arises if, during weaning, sudden cases of death of piglets soon appear with edema of the abdominal cavity and subcutaneous tissue. With other diseases, in addition to severe poisoning, they often have time to lose weight.

On examination, bluish spots on the skin are found:

  • patch;
  • ears;
  • groin area;
  • tail;
  • legs.

Autopsy reveals swelling of the subcutaneous tissue on the limbs, head, and abdomen. But not always.

But there is always a change in the stomach: swelling of the submucosa. Due to the swelling of the soft tissue layer, the stomach wall thickens strongly. The mucous membrane of the small intestine is swollen and bruised. Fibrin threads are very often found in intestinal loops. In the abdominal and chest cavities, the accumulation of serous-hemorrhagic exudate.

In the liver and kidneys, venous stasis is noted. Due to tissue degeneration, the liver has an uneven color.

The lungs are swollen. When cut, a frothy reddish liquid flows out of them.

The mesentery is edematous. Lymph nodes are enlarged and swollen. Red "bloody" areas in them alternate with pale anemic. The mesentery swells very much between the loops of the colon. Normally, the mesentery looks like a thin film that attaches the intestines to the dorsal portion of the animal. With edematous disease, it turns into a gelatinous liquid.

Important! Edema is more often recorded in slaughtered piglets than in those who managed to fall on their own.

The vessels of the meninges are filled with blood. Sometimes hemorrhages are noticeable on them. There are no visible changes in the spinal cord.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of the clinical picture of the disease and pathological changes in the body of the dead piglets. Also take into account bacteriological research and data on the epizootic situation.

Treatment of edematous disease in piglets

Since the disease is caused by bacteria, not viruses, it is quite treatable with antibiotics. You can use antibiotics of the penicillin and tetracycline groups. At the same time, sulfa drugs are used.

Important! According to some veterinarians, the aminoglycoside antibiotics neomycin and monomycin are more effective than the “outdated” tetracyclines, penicillins, and sulfonamides.

As a concomitant therapy, a 10% calcium chloride solution is used. It is administered by intravenous injections of 5 mg twice a day. For oral use, the dosage is 1 tbsp. l.

The introduction of antihistamines is recommended:

  • diphenhydramine;
  • suprastin;
  • diprazine.

Dosage, frequency and route of administration depend on the type of drug and the form of its release.

In case of heart failure, 0.07 ml / kg of cordiamine is injected subcutaneously twice a day. After recovery, probiotics are prescribed to all livestock to restore the intestinal flora.

During treatment, errors in feeding are also eliminated and a complete diet is calculated. On the first day of edema, the pigs are kept on a starvation diet. For the fastest cleaning of the intestines, they are given a laxative. On the second day, the survivors are given easily digestible food:

  • potatoes;
  • beet;
  • return;
  • fresh grass.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are given in accordance with the feeding norms. Vitamins of groups B and D can be injected instead of feeding.

Prevention measures

Prevention of edematous disease - first of all, the correct conditions of keeping and feeding. A proper diet is necessary for pregnant pigs and, of course, lactating queens. Then the piglets are fed according to their age. Piglets are fed with vitamins and minerals very early, from the 3-5th day of life. In the warm season, piglets are released for walking. Weaning too early should not be performed. One-sided feeding of piglets with concentrates can also lead to edema disease. Such a diet should be avoided. At about 2 months of age, the piglets are fed probiotics. The course of probiotics begins before weaning, and ends after.

The room, inventory, equipment must be systematically cleaned and disinfected.


Against edematous disease of pigs in Russia, the Serdosan polyvaccine is used. Not only piglets are vaccinated, but all pigs. For preventive purposes, the first vaccination is given to piglets on the 10-15th day of life. The piglets are vaccinated for the second time after another 2 weeks. And the last time the vaccine was injected after 6 months. after the second. In case of an outbreak of edematous disease on the farm, the piglets are vaccinated for the third time after 3-4 months. Immunity against pathogenic strains of E. coli is developed half a month after the second vaccination.

Important! The vaccine is also used to treat sick piglets.

But the vaccination scheme in this case changes: the second vaccination is done 7 days after the first; the third - a week and a half after the second.


Swelling disease of piglets usually "mows" all broods from the farmer, depriving him of profit. This can be avoided by observing the rules of zoo hygiene and correctly composing the diet. The general vaccination of all pigs will also prevent enterotoxemia from rampant.

Watch the video: Penny the pig How to treat a pig with Pneumonia (December 2022).

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