Detailed Herd Health History and Accurate Description of Symptoms Key to Formulating Effective Treatment

Farmscape for August 9, 2023

Full Interview 9:41 Listen

A professor of swine medicine with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine suggests an accurate description of symptoms and a detailed herd health history is the first step toward identifying the cause and formulating a treatment when diarrhea invades the swine barn. Although data released by the Canada West Swine Health Intelligence Network indicates the number of cases of diarrhea has declined over the last couple of years, samples submitted for diagnosis from grow finish indicates diarrhea is an ongoing issues in some barns. Dr. John Harding, a professor of swine medicine with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says a correct diagnosis will ensure the most effective and cost-effective control strategy is implemented.

Quote-Dr. John Harding-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
A really important first step is careful observation by the farm and farm staff to understand which pigs are affected, typically at what age, how many pigs are affected in the batch, what the diarrhea looks like. Is it watery or pasty, does it contain blood or mucus and perhaps what color is it? It could be black or brown or yellow and really importantly, is it homogenous in consistency or is it kind of chunky? These are all really important features and they help narrow down the cause of the diarrhea. If the correct samples are submitted properly along with a detailed history and knowledge of vaccination and medication status along with the observations from the farm, the rate of diagnosis is actually pretty good. Swine vets are trained to narrow down the list of potential causes before the samples are submitted which helps to limit the number of tests that are requested and the overall cost.
That’s why obtaining a history and those features of the diarrhea are so important. Understanding what diseases or pathogens are at the root of the problem also helps to fine tune treatment strategies and improve their effectiveness.

Dr. Harding encourages producers to work with their herd health veterinarian to determine the most relevant information and the best samples to submit.

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