ThePigSite Quick Disease Guide
The bacteria that cause mastitis in the sow can be grouped into three broad categories: coliform bacteria, staphylococci and streptococci, and miscellaneous bacteria.
Coliform mastitis - Coliform bacteria are related to E. coli, the commonest being E. coli itself and klebsiella. They produce a severe acute mastitis which results in reduced milk yield, a very ill sow and poor "doing" piglets. Marked discoloration of the skin over the udder and dark blueing of surrounding skin, ears and tail is a feature.
Herd problems can develop because the organisms are present in faeces and may also be in sows' urine. Consequently, they may be everywhere in a piggery. Coliform mastitis may thus be regarded as environmental in origin.
Staphylococcal and streptococcal mastitis - These are usually less acute and less severe than coliform mastitis. They tend to occur sporadically in individual sows in one or more glands and usually do not make the sow ill. The exception is an acute severe staphylococcal infection usually in a single gland which becomes swollen, hard and discoloured and makes the sow toxic.
Unlike coliform bacteria the source of these organisms is not usually the contaminated environment but the skin and possibly orifices of the sow herself. There is some evidence to suggest that as in the dairy cow and sheep some of these bacteria may persist sub-clinically in the udder and then flare up at or after farrowing
Miscellaneous bacteria - These include organisms such as pseudomonas which can produce a serious mastitis and toxaemia and which are often resistant to antibiotic treatment. Fortunately such infections are rare.
- Squealing due to lack of milk.
- Inappetence at farrowing or before if mastitis is already developing.
- Obviously ill will not suckle.
- Mucous membrane of her eyes are brick red.
- Affected glands swollen, red colour and painful.
- Discoloration of the ears and the whole of the udder, but particularly over the affected glands.
- Blue skin.
- Mammary tissue is infiltrated with hard lumps that are usually not painful when palpated.
- They may ulcerate to the surface and become a potential source of infection to other sows.
Causes / Contributing factors
- The continual use of farrowing houses.
- Poor farrowing pen hygiene, bad drainage, inadequate and poor quality bedding.
- The use of saw dust or shavings for bedding that become soaked in water or urine.
- A warm temperature for the organisms to multiply.
- Worn pitted farrowing house floors.
- Wet farrowing house floors.
- Contaminated drinking water.
- Adverse temperatures, draughts and poor ventilation in the farrowing houses.
- A build up of faeces behind the sows.
- Klebsiella in the water system.