23 February 1996

Virus warning for pig men

PIG producers are being advised to take appropriate precautions against transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) after an outbreak was confirmed in South Lincs.

"The virus thrives in cold weather and can lead to 100% mortality rates in piglets up to 10 days old," says the president of the British Veterinary Association.

Symptoms are a characteristic green diarrhoea, and vomiting.

"In the past TGE has spread quickly and it is vital producers are made aware of the disease and appropriate precautions taken."

The BVA advises preventing non-essential visitors, cleaning wheel washes, using dips between pig houses as well as checking movements of all feed wagons and transporters.

Birds are the most likely vector.

President of the Pig Veterinary Society, John Mackinnon, says: "If more cases arise there is no specific treatment. Vets may advise back feeding where dead infected piglets are fed back to the sow.

"Back feeding can only be carried out under Ministry of Agriculture licence but it is a vital defense providing immunity for the unborn piglet if it is carried out before sows are within two weeks of farrowing. Any later and there is a risk that piglets will be infected after birth," he says.

Mr Mackinnon.

"When piglets are infected they must be kept in creep boxes, at a temperature of 30íC, provided with plenty of fluids as electrolytes and treated with antibiotics to prevent secondary infections," he says.