A Picture of Health

US - The Reference of Swine Health and Health Management Practices in the United States, 2006 provides an interesting look at swine health patterns in the United States, which are still relevant today, writes JoAnn Alumbaugh.
calendar icon 5 March 2008
clock icon 3 minute read
Her report for Farms.com is based on material prepared from the US Department of Agriculture, Plant and Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services, during a study of animal health and health management on swine operations.

The Data collected was from 514 swine production sites between September 2006 and March 2007. Seventeen states were included in the study, from the North, West Central, East Central and South regions of the United States, representing at least 70 per cent of the US swine production population.

Sow and Litter Health

Sows More than 20 per cent of the sites reported sickness or mortality in breeding females due to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), swine influenza, and roundworms during the previous 12 months. A higher percentage of large sites reported problems with swine influenza, gastric ulcers, and ileitis compared to small sites.

Separately, 27.3 per cent of all sites reported problems associated with PRRS, with that number increasing to 38.7 per cent in large herds. Roundworms appear to be the most widespread problem, regardless of herd size, with prevalence on 26.8 per cent of all sites.

According to the report, the most common problems reported in pre-weaned pigs were colibacillosis, navel infections, and Streptococcus suis (47.4, 43.1, and 38.5 per cent of sites, respectively). One in four small sites (25 per cent) reported problems with Streptococcus Suis meningitis, compared to approximately two-thirds of medium and large sites (63.4 and 66.2 per cent, respectively).


Vaccination practices appeared to be similar across size categories for all diseases monitored. However, the percentage of sites that usually vaccinated breeding animals against Mycoplasma pneumonia ranged from 23.7 per cent of small sites to 62.5 per cent of large sites.

Almost half of sites with nursery-age pigs (49.9 per cent) reported sickness due to Streptococcus suis meningitis during the previous 12 months. The percentage of sites reporting sickness due to PRRS ranged from 18.6 per cent of small sites to 61.6 per cent of large sites. A higher percentage of large sites (39.6 per cent) reported porcine circovirus associated diseases (PCVAD) than medium sites (12.5 per cent) or small sites (21.5 per cent).

Similar disease patterns were apparent in grow-finish pigs, with PRRS, Mycoplasma pneumonia, influenza, Ileitis, and PCVAD having the highest percentage of occurrence on farms of all sizes.

While the NAHMS report doesn’t attempt to explain causes of or reasons for disease prevalence, it certainly provides a snapshot of the health status of US swine farms. As such, it sets the stage for determining which diseases require the most attention and which emerging problems need to be addressed.

To read the full report click here.
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