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Campylobacter Infections of Piglets

(325) Campylobacters are small curved rods which are present sometimes in large numbers in the small intestines and large intestines of most mammals including pigs. There are several species in pigs. Whether or not they cause diarrhoea in naturally reared piglets is debatable because it seems likely that the antibodies in sows milk would prevent this. However oral infections to newborn colostrum-deprived piglets may result in mild diarrhoea with mucus and sometimes blood in it. Spiral helicobacter species, related to campylobacters, may be found adhering to the stomach wall of pigs and in and around gastric ulcers. However, many other factors contribute to stomach ulcers in pigs and it seems unlikely that helicobacters are a primary cause.

Clinical signs

Campylobacters are associated with a mild, sometimes creamy, diarrhoea in piglets lasting several days if untreated.


This is difficult because campylobacters are so common in faeces along with other organisms which can cause diarrhoea such as, E.coli, rotaviruses, coccidia and crytosporidia and it is impossible to decide whether their isolation is significant in any particular outbreak.


Fortunately, campylobacters are susceptible to oral antibacterial medicines which are used for other diarrhoea-causing diarrhoea such as tylosin, neomycin, tetracyclines and enrofloxacin.

Human diarrhoea
Acute campylobacter diarrhoea is common in people as a result of eating contaminated food, particularly poultry and milk, but although some of the campylobacters in people appear similar to those in pigs, no causal relationship has been found between pig meat products and campylobacter diarrhoea in people.

Management and Control

  • Most creamy diarrhoeas in piglets are associated with coccidiosis and control procedures for campylobacters are similar to those for coccidiosis.
  • Good hygiene and all-in, all-out.
  • Management of farrowing houses are important.
  • See also control of E.coli infections.

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