VLA: Stone Ingestion Causes Intestinal Problems

UK - Intestinal problems caused by ingestion of stones have been observed in pigs. This is not a new problem and is confined to outdoor pig herds, according to the UK's Veterinary Laboratory Agency (VLA) report for April 2010.
calendar icon 16 June 2010
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Alimentary tract diseases

Swine Dysentery

Shrewsbury diagnosed swine dysentery in a 10 week old weaner pig, one of three to have died from a group of 10 in which seven had shown signs of diarrhoea and wasting. Piglets were healthy until eight weeks of age, then developed scour, wasting and death.

Surveillance information from an abattoir to a pig fattening unit with a previous history of Swine Dysentery resulted in the submission of diagnostic samples to VLA which confirmed the presence of Brachyspira hyodysenteriae confirming the problem to be ongoing and prompting further on farm control.


Clinical salmonellosis caused by S.Typhimurium U288 was diagnosed in two pigs submitted to Bury to investigate the sudden death of approximately 30 nine to 12-week-old growers from a batch of 540 on a small indoor breeder finisher unit. Although described as sudden deaths, the pigs submitted were in fair or poor body condition and prompt isolation and treatment of such cases was recommended. There was no evidence of PCV2 involvement.

Salmonellosis due to Salmonella Typhimurium phage type 193 was also diagnosed as the cause of diarrhoea in 10 per cent of 850 seven-week-old pigs on an indoor nursery finisher unit, four deaths had occurred.

Intestinal stones

A gilt carcase was submitted to Winchester with a history of sudden death. It was the third gilt to die from a group of 180 recently introduced high health pigs. Necropsy revealed severe bloating and subcutaneous emphysema. Examination of abdominal content revealed torsion of the mesentery involving most of the small and large intestine. A large quantity of 1 cm diameter gravel/pebbles was present within the colon and caecum, with these likely to have predisposed to the intestinal torsion seen grossly.

Bury also described a case where intestinal mesenteric torsion was the cause of death of a recently weaned sow from a group of 115 outdoor sows in which four deaths had occurred in the previous 10 days. Two kg of medium sized pebbles were removed from the spiral colon and may well have contributed to the torsion.

Respiratory Diseases

Inclusion body rhinitis

Three live six-week-old weaners were submitted to Luddington to investigate recent respiratory disease in a group of 177 weaners in a herd totalling 450 sows and 4000 fattening pigs. Morbidity of 100 per cent but no mortality was reported in this group, as well as upper respiratory signs in younger piglets in the farrowing house. The pigs submitted showed increased respiratory noise, purulent nasal discharge and slight pyrexia. Post-mortem examination revealed mucopurulent discharge in the nasal chambers of two pigs and caseous yellow/green material in the nasal chambers of the third, with some diphtheritic areas involving the mucosa of the turbinates in this animal. Histological examination of a section of snout revealed purulent rhinitis with some evidence of mild or residual inclusion body rhinitis lesions which probably predisposed to the secondary infection.


Bury identified Pandemic H1 (likely H1N1 2009) swine influenza infection by PCR in seven-week-old pigs. The pigs were submitted with a history of lameness and signs of meningitis, accompanied by coughing. Submitted pigs had fibrinopurulent arthritis and other gross lesions suggestive of bacterial infection. Streptococcus suis type 14 was isolated from joints and meninges.

Further Reading

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