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Recognising a Worm Problem

(493) This is carried out by collecting faeces samples from different ages of pigs and examining them for the presence of worm eggs. 25g samples should be taken from the following animals:- 5 lean dry sows, 5 lean suckling sows, 5 separate samples from weaner faeces at 12 weeks of age and 5 separate samples from finishing pigs at 90kg. These are then submitted to a laboratory for examinations.

A 2g portion of each sample is washed through a sieve with saturated salt or zinc sulphate solution and a small amount of this liquid containing worm eggs is flooded into a glass chamber of a known size. The top of the chamber is then examined microscopically as the eggs float to the surface and the numbers of the different eggs are counted (Fig.11-6). The levels per g of faeces are then calculated.

Worms of one kind or another are almost always present in commercial pig herds. Low numbers are no problem but large numbers can cause tissue damage with malfunction of the body systems that are damaged and loss of condition. It can be difficult to assess the significance of a parasite burden but the following procedures may be adopted.

Step 1

Assess the body condition, growth rates and clinical symptoms of the group of pigs

Coughing - consider lungworm but only if the environment could give access to earth worms or beetles. Ascarid larvae as they migrate through the lungs can increase the incidence of pneumonia and coughing.
Wasting - round worms, coccidia, kidney worms or Balantidium coli.
Blood in the urine - kidney worms.
Blood in the faeces - coccidiosis, trichuris infection.
Anaemic pigs - stomach worms.

Step 2

Assess the type of environment and the way it could maintain parasites. Look at the ages of the pigs affected.

Step 3

Assess post-mortem and slaughter house information for evidence of parasites in the following organs:

  • Liver damage / milk spot - ascarids, kidney worms
  • The kidney - kidney worms
  • The stomach - stomach worms
  • The intestine - ascarids, nodular worms
  • The large bowel - nodular worms, whipworms, balantidia
  • Muscle - muscle worms
Step 4

Assess the results of the faeces examinations. The egg output each day is variable and the results must be interpreted by assessing all samples, together with the types of worm eggs, their numbers (Fig.11-7) and the clinical picture. The output of eggs also varies in the sow with the stage of reproduction, with increased outputs of eggs during lactation. Never make a diagnosis on egg counts alone. Judge their significance by Steps 1, 2 and 3.

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