This disease primarily affects piglets. The key clinical signs include mild diarrhoea, sometimes with blood or mucus; dehydration; loss of condition.
calendar icon 13 November 2018
clock icon 7 minute read

Background and history

Campylobacters are small curved rod bacteria 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 is likely that the antibodies in sows milk would prevent this.

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

  • Mild, sometimes creamy, diarrhoea in piglet.
  • Sometimes diarrhoea with blood and mucous.
  • Dehydration.
  • Loss of condition.


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.


  • Poor hygiene in pens.
  • Wet floor surfaces.
  • Continually used houses without cleaning and disinfection.
  • Secondary infection to other enteric organisms.


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


Campylobacters are susceptible to oral antibacterial medicines such as:

  • Tylosin
  • Neomycin
  • Tetracyclines
  • Enrofloxacin

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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