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See also chapter 9; Streptococcal infections

(274) Meningitis is uncommon in the sow but it is sometimes secondary to middle ear infection or associated with water deprivation and salt poisoning. If an infectious disease enters a herd for the first time sporadic cases in sows may be seen.

Clinical signs

The sow is inappetent, trembling with an unsteady gate. The temperature is elevated, often as high as 42ºC (108ºF). As the meningitis develops in severity the eye moves sideways (nystagmus) fits develop and the sow ultimately cannot stand.


This is based upon the signs in an individual sow, or if there are a number of cases, a specific infectious disease. It may require a post-mortem examination, including histology of the brain and demonstration of the causal organism to confirm the diagnosis.

Similar diseases

These include:

  • Acute kidney infection.
  • Aujeszky's disease (AD) (PR).
  • Brain abscess.
  • Haemophilus parasuis infection.
  • Heat stroke.
  • Listeriosis.
  • Middle ear infection.
  • Poisons.
  • Water deprivation.
  • This depends upon the cause. Always consider the common ones first which include middle ear infection, brain abscess, water deprivation and in some countries aujeszky's disease. Refer to the treatment for these specific diseases.
  • For bacterial infections use penicillin, penicillin/streptomycin or amoxycillin. Inject twice daily.
  • Corticosteroids may also be required. Seek veterinarian advice.
  • Move the affected animal to a clean warm well bedded pen.
  • Provide easy access to water or dribble into the mouth three times daily by hose pipe.

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