Pigs: A Guide for New Owners


Notifiable Diseases in Pigs

A notifiable disease is a disease named in Section 88 of the Animal Health Act 1981 or an Order made under that Act.

In practice, if you suspect signs of any of the notifiable diseases listed below, you must immediately notify the Defra Divisional Veterinary Manager at your local Animal Health Divisional Office.

African Swine Fever – This has never occurred in this country

ASF is similar to Classical Swine Fever (see below), but it is caused by a different virus. The ASF virus can be given to pigs by ticks and biting flies, as well as directly from infected pigs and pig meat. There are acute and chronic forms of ASF. In the acute disease, pigs firstly go off their food and are extremely dull with a high temperature (40-42 degrees C). They can then have diarrhoea, vomiting, coughing and a purple blotching of the skin. They might have a swaying gait, abort their litters and have a discharge from the eyes and nose.

Classical Swine Fever –  Last occurred in this country in 2000

CSF also has acute and chronic forms and is spread to pigs by infected pigs, pig meat, or dirty vehicles, boots, etc. In the mild and chronic forms of the disease, the signs are less obvious – there may be a short-lived lack of appetite and fever and perhaps abortion. However, in the acute form, pigs are very dull and off their food with a high fever (40 – 41 degrees C). They may cough and initially show constipation then later, diarrhoea. There may be a discharge from the eyes and nose and the skin can be reddened and blotchy. Sows may abort or give birth to a weak litter. Some new born piglets have tremors.

Aujeszky’s Disease –  Occurred last – 1989 in this country

Aujeszky`s disease is also caused by a virus. Affected pigs have a variety of signs including sneezing, coughing, laboured breathing and fever. They may show nervous signs, too, such as trembling, circling and a swaying gait. Sows might abort or give birth to still born or mummified litters. Deaths are highest in younger pigs.

Foot and Mouth Disease –  Occurred last – 2001 in this country.

The chief symptom in pigs is sudden lameness. Pigs prefer to lie down and when made to move squeal loudly and hobble painfully, though lameness may not be so obvious where the pigs are on deep bedding or soft ground. The blisters form on the upper edge of the hoof, where the skin and horn meet, and on the heels and in the cleft. They may extend right round the hoof head, with the result that the horn becomes detached.

At a later stage new horn starts to grow and the old hoof is carried down and finally shed. The process resembles the loss of a fingernail following some blow or other injury. Mouth symptoms are not usually visible, but blisters may develop on the snout or on the tongue and along the udder

Swine Vesicular Disease –  Occurred last – 1982 in GB

The symptoms are clinically indistinguishable from foot-and-mouth disease but SVD only affects pigs. There is a fever of up to 41 degrees Centigrade, then vesicles (blisters) develop on the coronary band, typically at the junction with the heel. The disease usually appears suddenly but does not spread with the same rapidity as foot-and-mouth disease. Mortality is low but in acute cases there can be some loss of production. Lameness develops due to the eruption of vesicles at the top of the hooves and between the toes. Vesicles may also develop on the snout, tongue and lips. The surface under the vesicles is red and this gradually changes colour as healing develops. The entire hoof may be shed. In less severe cases the healed lesion may grow down the hoof and this is seen by a black transverse mark. Recovery is usually complete within two to three weeks.

Teschen Disease (Porcine enterovirus encephalomyelitis) – This has never occurred in this country.

Initially, infected pigs have a fever, loss of appetite, are dull and slightly uncoordinated.. As the disease progresses there is irritability, stiffness, muscular tremors or rigidity, and convulsions. There may also be grinding of the teeth, smacking of the lips and squealing as if in pain. The voice may change or be lost entirely.

The course of the disease is usually acute and death, generally preceded by paralysis, normally occurs within three to four days of the appearance of symptoms. Mildly affected animals may recover. All age groups of pigs are susceptible to this disease.

Vesicular Stomatitis – This is a very rare disease of pigs which has never occurred in this country, but can also affect cattle, horses and people.

This disease, like SVD and FMD, causes blisters, but a different virus is involved . Areas of skin become blanched, followed by the formation of vesicles on the snout of pigs, on the lips, tongue, hard and soft palate and the coronary band. Lesions may also occur in other areas of the skin, especially where there is abrasion of tissue. The vesicles yield a serous fluid as they burst, usually 6 to 24 hours after formation. The hoof may become detached if vesicles have gathered there. Mortality rates are moderate to low.


This disease occurs rarely in pigs, but it can be given to people, too. It is caused by a bacteria and infected pigs can have fluid filled swellings around the neck or have a bloody diarrhoea. Spores of the bacteria can live for some time in slurry and contaminated housing.

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