Vesicular Diseases

by 5m Editor
28 April 2011, at 12:00am

Advice from the Canadian Swine Health Board on how to spot pigs with blisters on nose, mouth, feet and sometimes teats on recently farrowed sows, and what action to take in case of concerns.

Several different vesicular diseases produce fluid-filled blisters or vesicles in the mouth and on the snout, feet and teats of recently farrowed sows.

It could be...
  • Swine vesicular disease
  • Vesicular stomatitis
  • Vesicular exanthema
  • Idiopathic vesicular disease
  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Several viruses cause these vesicular diseases. The most important is Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The symptoms and lesions of these vesicular diseases are visually indistinguishable. Vesicles and blisters like these could be a sign of FMD – a great cause for concern to all stakeholders in the swine and pork value chain in Canada. The presence of these diseases would cause closure of international markets for Canadian products.

Other conditions – chemical or physical – can mimic these symptoms but any time these symptoms are seen, the same actions must be followed. Canada has an obligation under international trade agreements to investigate, report and control outbreaks.

All of these diseases are highly contagious and can spread very quickly. Hogs with these symptoms that arrive at a processing plant may immediately cause the shutdown of the plant. Failure to be vigilant can cause serious negative effects on the livestock industry well beyond the farm gate.


  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lameness – ranging from as mild as an uncomfortable appearance to refusing to move on hard surfaces
  • Fluid-filled blisters on the snout, feet, mouth and teats
  • Ruptured blisters, leaving lesions that continue to erode healthy tissue
  • Loose foot pads or even loss of hooves


  • Do not transport any animals off farm until the disease has been ruled out
  • Call your veterinarian
  • These diseases are reportable diseases under the Health of Animals Act. These symptoms must be immediately reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Your veterinarian can help with the notification.
  • Do not move contaminated vehicles or equipment to another farm until the disease has been ruled out.

Public Health and Safety

These diseases do not present a threat to human health.


These diseases are not present in Canada but could be introduced through infected animals, meat or contaminated visitors. To prevent entry we need to:

  1. Not source livestock, semen or embryos internationally unless approved by CFIA
  2. Prevent illegal entry of meat into Canada and not feed food scraps to livestock
  3. Only allow essential visitor access to livestock

International travellers should take special biosecurity precautions and avoid contact with Canadian livestock for a period of time. For more specific information, talk to your veterinarian.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on the diseases mentioned in this article by clicking here.

April 2011