Respiratory Disease Management in Pig/Swine: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

In pig farming, respiratory disease is a frequent and severe problem that results in significant financial losses and raises questions about animal welfare. Pigs’ complex respiratory systems can be impacted by a number of variables, which increases their susceptibility to infections. Viruses, bacteria, other infectious agents, and environmental variables like inadequate ventilation, temperature swings, and elevated levels of dust or ammonia can all contribute to the development of respiratory diseases. 

Respiratory Disease Management in Pig/Swine

Primary and opportunistic bacteria found in the upper respiratory tract of healthy piglets are frequently a contributing factor in respiratory disease in pigs.  When viruses are also present, the term porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC) is used instead of swine respiratory disease (SRD), which describes respiratory illness brought on solely by germs. Opportunistic bacteria can cause illness due to immune system dysfunction, which frequently results in more serious lung diseases. 

Multiple individuals infected simultaneously can make things worse. The name PRDC emphasizes the complexity of events that take place during the progression of pneumonia in pigs. To stop the proliferation of respiratory diseases and reduce their negative effects on the economy and animal welfare, it is essential to identify and treat them as soon as possible. 

The incidence and severity of respiratory diseases in pig populations can greatly decrease using appropriate management techniques, including biosecurity precautions and vaccination programs. According to research, respiratory diseases account for up to 75% of all swine fatalities following weaning. The swine business suffers losses as a result. 

Respiratory Disease Management in Pig/Swine

Causes of Respiratory Disease in Pig/Swine

Various factors, including infectious agents, environmental conditions, and management practices, can cause respiratory diseases in pigs. Bacterial agents such as Pasteurella multocida, Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia, and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae are among the most common culprits of respiratory infections in pigs.

Viruses such as the swine influenza virus and Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus also contribute to respiratory disease outbreaks in pigs. Poor ventilation, overcrowding, and inadequate temperature control can exacerbate respiratory disease problems, as can exposure to toxic gases such as ammonia and dust particles.

Disease Cycle of Respiratory Disease

Respiratory diseases in pigs have a cycle that perpetuates the spread of the disease. It begins with introducing the pathogen into the herd, which can occur through multiple routes, such as direct contact with an infected animal, contaminated feed or water, or exposure to aerosols carrying the pathogen. Once the pathogen enters the pig, it replicates, leading to infection and the onset of clinical signs. Infected pigs then shed the pathogen through their respiratory secretions, feces, and urine, which can contaminate the environment and infect other pigs.

What are the Symptoms of Respiratory Disease?

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Labored breathing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever (above 39.4°C or 103°F)
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced growth rate

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Baby Pig

Diagnosis for Respiratory Disease in Pig/Swine

Since different pathogens can get involved and the clinical signs can change depending on the disease, diagnosing respiratory diseases in pigs can be difficult. To formally establish a diagnosis, clinical signs, necropsy results, and laboratory studies are required. Typical diagnostic procedures include bacterial culture, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), serology, and histopathology.

Swabs from the tonsils, lungs, and nasal passageways can be taken for bac