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Streptococcal Meningitis

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Meningitis denotes inflammation of the meninges which are the membranes covering the brain. In the sucking piglet it is usually caused by Streptococcus suis, Haemophilus parasuis, or sometimes bacteria such as E. coli and other streptococci. S. suis has many serotypes. In most countries S. suis type 1 is the main one in sucking piglets, but this may not be true in other countries. For example in Denmark it is type 7. S. suis also causes joint problems particularly types 1 and 14.

S. suis is carried for long periods in the tonsils and may be transmitted to the sucking piglet from the sow or from other piglets. The sow also provides a variable level of immunity in the colostrum. Streptococcal meningitis in sucking piglets is sporadic in individual piglets. Streptococcal meningitis may be worse in sucking pigs when the organism has been introduced into the herd for the first time, or where it is secondary to infection with PRRS.


Piglets & Weaners
  • Symptoms of meningitis are rapid in onset.
  • The piglet lying on its belly and shivering.
  • It is characterised by a continual movement of the eyes from one side to the other (nystagmus).
  • Paddling.
  • Convulsions.
  • In acute cases the piglet may be found dead.
Sows & Growers
  • Meningitis is uncommon.
  • Muscle trembling.
  • Head on one side.
  • Nystagmus of the eyes.
  • Incoordination.

Causes / Contributing factors

  • S. suis is spread from one pig to another by direct nose to nose contact.
  • Carrier boars or gilts.
  • It can also spread within a herd by indirect contact.
  • In confined space by aerosol infection.


To confirm the diagnosis, the organism must be isolated from the meninges of clinically affected pigs and identified in a laboratory. The disease must be differentiated from joint infections, gl?ssers disease, generalised septicaemia, salt poisoning, aujeszky's disease and hypoglycaemia.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to find out more about this disease, including treatment, management control and prevention information. The top link is the main article on this disease.