Accurate Diagnosis Key to Selecting Most Appropriate Treatment for Diarrhea

Farmscape for August 21, 2023

Full Interview 9:41 Listen

A professor of swine medicine with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine suggests it’s critical to have a proper diagnosis before implementing a treatment strategy for diarrhea in the swine barn. Several different bacterial and viral pathogens will cause diarrhea in the grow finish phase of swine production. Dr. John Harding, a professor of swine medicine with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says before submitting samples to the diagnostic lab the first step is to compile an accurate description of symptoms and a detailed herd health history.

Quote-Dr. John Harding-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
It’s really important to work with a veterinarian who has good knowledge of swine diseases and also communicate with the diagnostic laboratory. The diagnostic test results are critical in establishing the most effective treatment option.
To explain this, I’ll give an example. If we have a sample submitted to the lab and the diagnosis indicates that Lawsonia is present in the sample, our treatment options would include antibiotics or vaccination. If, for example, the diagnostic test indicates it’s PED, then the only option is to clean it out of the farm on a long-term basis. We have completely different options depending on the different diseases that we have present. That’s why it’s critical to have a proper diagnosis before we implement a treatment strategy.
There are a lot of resources available to help less experienced vets move in the right direction if needed. At WCVM we operate a specialised Brachyspira diagnostic serve that offers tests above and beyond what most diagnostic laboratories offer. Our service is mainly focussed on swine dysentery cases but we’re also available for consultation if anyone has a case of grow-finish diarrhea and needs some help.

Dr. Harding says the best way to get more information is through the Western College of Veterinary Medicine web site at or by emailing him directly at

For more visit Farmscape.Ca. Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producers