3 swine diseases every pig farmer should know about

All living things are at risk for disease, but pigs specifically are vulnerable to certain illness that are highly contagious to them. Here are three diseases pig farmers should have on their radar:

Swine influenza
This is a respiratory virus that causes outbreaks in pigs. There are many subtypes, just like human flu. It can occasionally spread to other types of animals and even people, but usually stays within pigs. Signs in pigs may include fever, loss of appetite, coughing, eye redness, nasal discharge and difficulty breathing. To protect your pigs, ensure you get them vaccinated, have everyone on the farm practice good hygiene, allow airflow into the barn and isolate sick animals as soon as possible.

Classical swine fever (CSF)
Also known as hog cholera or swine fever, CSF doesn’t infect humans, but it’s highly contagious for pigs. It can have mild or severe symptoms and can be deadly for them. It is a reportable disease in Canada – which means you must tell the Canadian Food Inspection Agency if you suspect it on your farm.

Typical symptoms of CSF include fever and reddish skin, lack of coordination, diarrhea or pneumonia, among others. Although CSF was eliminated from Canada roughly 60 years ago, it still exists in many countries around the world. The disease can survive in pork or on items such as equipment, vehicles or clothing which could then infect pigs (not people). There’s no treatment, but vaccines can be used to help control the disease. That’s why ongoing awareness and prevention is important. Follow strong biosecurity measures to prevent the disease in Canada.

African swine fever (ASF)
Another deadly disease for pigs, though ASF isn’t a threat to humans. It’s found in countries around the world, and has been rapidly spreading around the globe since 2018. It could arrive in Canada in similar ways as CSF, including on items of someone who was at a farm in another country where ASF exists; in animal feed ingredients that weren’t sourced safely, or through illegally imported contaminated pork products that pigs eat as scraps or wild pigs find in landfills.

Symptoms of ASF include high fever, internal bleeding, weakness or inability to stand, vomiting, diarrhea and reddish skin. It can appear similar to CSF, though they are different conditions and there is no vaccine to reduce the spread of an ASF outbreak, unlike with CSF.

The bottom line
To protect your pigs from these diseases, farmers should practice strong biosecurity measures – including routine cleaning protocols, and controlling visitors and other animals’ ability to access pigs.

Monitoring your pigs’ health is also a core part of biosecurity. If any pigs appear sick, consult a veterinarian. If ASF or any other reportable disease is suspected, that must be reported to the CFIA and the animal must be isolated. This could save a lot of pigs and a lot of jobs.

Find more information about ASF at inspection.canada.ca/asf-biosecurity

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