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Oedema Disease

This is also called gut oedema. It is caused by certain serotypes of E. coli bacteria that produce a powerful toxin. These toxins damage the walls of small blood vessels including those in the brain and cause fluid or oedema to accumulate in the tissues of the stomach and the large bowel. Damage to the blood vessels in the brain results in characteristic nervous signs. Disease is now uncommon and generally only seen 1 to 4 weeks after weaning, the peak being at 14 days.


Piglets & Sows
  • N/A
Weaners & Growers
  • Sometimes the only sign is a good pig found dead.
Typically, live affected pigs show:
  • A staggering gate.
  • Incoordination.
  • Puffy eyelids giving a sleepy appearance.
  • An abnormal high pitched squeak.
  • Pigs stop eating.
  • In the later stages become partially paralysed and go off their legs.
  • Sometimes with nervous symptoms. Muscle twitching, fits.
  • Diarrhoea is not a feature.
  • Breathing difficulties become evident.
  • The damage to the brain is irreversible and most pigs die.
  • Lameness.

Causes / Contributing factors

  • Associated with weaning and changes of diet.


This is made from the typical clinical signs, the sudden appearance of disease after weaning, post-mortem examinations showing oedema (fluid in tissues) of the greater curvature of the stomach wall, coiled colon and eyelids and isolation of the specific haemolytic E. coli serotypes from the anterior small intestine.

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.