Estimated Prevalence and Impact of Periweaning Failure to Thrive Syndrome in Canada and United States

Based on a survey of 55 pig veterinarians, the average prevalence of Periweaning Failure to Thrive Syndrome (PFTS) was 4.3 per cent and it was found in five Canadian provinces and 11 US states.
calendar icon 25 February 2014
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In Journal of Swine Production and Health, Terri L. O’Sullivan of the University of Guelph in Canada and co-authors there, at the University of Saskatchewan, Abilene Animal Hospital and Iowa State University report their study to estimate the prevalence of PFTS in Canadian and American nursery-pig flows, to estimate the percentage of PFTS-affected pigs within an affected nursery flow, and to rank the common clinical signs observed by practitioners associated with PFTS on commercial farms.

In the paper, O’Sullivan and co-authors explain that PFTS is a clinical condition in which weaned pigs develop anorexia and lose body condition, progressing to debilitation. Additionally, some affected piglets demonstrate oral behavioral changes resembling a continuous sham chewing motion, with most clinical signs apparent as early as seven days post-weaning.

The syndrome has generated interest over the past few years, they report, due to an increasing number of cases being unofficially and officially reported in Canada, Spain, and the United States from 2008 to 2012. So far, no clear factors, aetiological agent(s), or the pathogenesis associated with the syndrome have been identified.

It has been suggested that inconsistent clinical recognition and inaccurate recording of cause of mortality by swine veterinarians and producers may have contributed to the lack of understanding of the syndrome.

The researchers designed a questionnaire, which was beta-tested and then made available through the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) and University of Guelph web sites.

Swine practitioners in major swine-producing regions of Canada and the United States completed the questionnaire to estimate the prevalence and impact of PFTS in nursery flows.

To raise awareness and to aid in consistent recognition and reporting of the syndrome, a video was produced and accompanied the questionnaire. Oral, scientific-poster and video presentations were also made at major swine-practitioner meetings across Canada and the United States to promote awareness of the syndrome and questionnaire.

Fifty-five questionnaires were completed, with respondents servicing 1,974 nursery flows.

The reported mean flow prevalence of PFTS was 4.3 per cent (95 per cent CI: 0.9 to 8.0 per cent).

The within-flow prevalence was reported to be variable (one to 20 per cent), with cases reported in five provinces and 11 states.

This report provides the first estimate of the mean flow prevalence and impact of PFTS in Canada and the United States.

O’Sullivan and co-authors write that it is reasonable to expect this estimated prevalence to change as understanding of the syndrome grows.

They added that video documentation, including demonstration of the clinical signs associated with PFTS, was an effective method to raise awareness of the syndrome.


O’Sullivan T.L., J.C.S. Harding, R. Friendship, S. Henry and K. Schwartz. 2014. Estimated prevalence and impact of periweaning failure to thrive syndrome in Canada and the United States. J Swine Health Prod. 2014;22(1):24–28.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

February 2014

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