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Thrombocytopaenic Purpura - Bleeding

(387) This is an uncommon condition seen only in young piglets from approximately 7 to 21 days of age. It arises when the sows colostrum contains antibodies that destroy the piglets blood platelets (thrombocytes). The immune system of the sow during the period of pregnancy recognises the platelets as foreign protein and produces antibodies against them. The formation of these antibodies is also related to the boar that is used. Disease commences 7 to 10 days after the intake of colostrum.

Clinical signs

These can be sudden and are indicated by good pigs found dead. Look closely at the skin of these and you will see haemorrhages wherever there as been bruising, teeth marks or trauma.

Haemorrhages are evident throughout all body tissues. The piglet dies through the failure of normal blood clotting mechanisms. The disease is very sporadic but up to half the litter may be affected. Invariably the pigs die.


A typical history of 1-4 good piglets dying between 1 to 3 weeks of age with haemorrhages. Consult your veterinarian.

Similar diseases

Purpura can appear similar to African swine fever and classical swine fever particularly with the extensive haemorrhaging throughout the carcass.


  • There is no known treatment other than good nursing. In the early stages of the disease it is worthwhile cross-fostering litters to remove exposure to any lingering antibodies in the sows milk.
Management control and prevention
  • Where a sow has produced such a litter make sure she is mated with a different boar at the next pregnancy or cull her.

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