Coccidiosis: Part 1 in Blog Series on 3 Common Pig Diseases in Zimbabwe

 In Advice, Health

As Red Dane has recently diversified to include a pork and sheep business in our family, Kikaboni, we thought we’d share a series of blogs on the most common pig diseases in Zimbabwe, and how you can prevent, diagnose and treat them! The first one we will be writing about is Coccidiosis.

Coccidiosis a common disease in suckling piglets and sometimes pigs under 15 weeks. It caused by 3 types of coccidia parasites, that will settle and breed in the cells of a pig’s intestinal tract. Death due to coccidiosis is fairly rare, however the piglets may die from secondary infections or viruses[i]. Piglets can spread the disease between each other[ii].

Prevention

The following practices will help you to prevent coccidiosis in your piglets:

  • One source of the coccidia parasites is sow faeces, so these must be cleaned out of the farrowing pens every day.
  • Clean out farrowing pens regularly, and control insects (flies) within farrowing houses. After cleaning, disinfect pens with strong bleach or ammonium compounds[iii]
  • Make sure slurry drains are cleared out entirely between farrowings.
  • Brush farrowing house floors with lime wash between sows
  • Keep farrowing pens dry.
  • Do not creep feed on the floor until piglets are 3 weeks old.
  • Do not cross-foster piglets within 24 hours of birth.
  • Control rodents.
  • Have slatted plastic or metal flooring in farrowing houses so that faeces drop through and the floors are easy to clean.

Clinical Symptoms

The disease takes 5 to 10 days to develop and so you will not observe any symptoms before 5 days of age. Common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhoea at 1 to 3 weeks – any colour from yellow to a greyish green, or even bloody if the disease is serious – that is not properly cured by antibiotics.
  • Piglets seriously affected will grow a rough hairy coat and be constantly dirty (covered in faeces).

Treatment

Treatment needs to be administered before bacteria invade the intestinal wall. It is not effective once clinical signs appear. It must be noted that there are no proven anticoccidials or drugs that can be used to prevent or treat coccidiosis via the sow.

If you suspect coccidiosis in your piglets or you know your farm has been affected:

  • Individually treat piglets with toltrazuril at 6.25mg/kg given orally between 3 and 5 days after birth.

[i] The Pig Site. Coccidiosis (Coccidia parasites). [Internet] 2019 [Cited 2019 September 9]; Available from: https://thepigsite.com/disease-guide/coccidiosis-coccidia

[ii] Farm Health Online. Coccidiosis in Pigs. [Internet] 2018 [Cited 2019 September 9]; Available from: https://www.farmhealthonline.com/US/disease-management/pig-diseases/coccidiosis-in-pigs/

[iii] Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. Coccidiosis. [Internet] 2019 [Cited 2019 September 9]; Available from: https://vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/FSVD/swine/index-diseases/coccidiosis

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