Escherichia coli Pre and Post-weaning Diarrhoea

 

Causal agent

Escherichia coli – E. coli.  A gram negative rod bacteria

Age group

From birth to around 10 days of age.  First few weeks post-weaning

Clinical signs

0-3 days

Sudden death, with very few clinical signs.  Possibly some diarrhoea

3-10 days

Acute and chronic diarrhoea, pasty yellow colour.  Piglets may be found dead, but most have clinical signs which lead to dehydration and ultimately death.

Post-weaning

Acute and chronic diarrhoea.  Weaners may demonstrate ill-thrift.  The diarrhoea progressively leads to dehydration and death.

Farrow poor piglet

E

E

Neonatal death

Diarrhoea in farrowing

Piglet with E. coli diarrhoea

Ecoli postweaning diarrhoea

Diarrhoea wean 2

Diarrhoea on the walls

Diarrhoea post-weaning

E. coli diarrhoea in weaners

Transmission

E. coli are ubiquious (everywhere).  Some types are more pathogenic depending on fimbiae.   The organism may be easily transmitted around the farm.

Post-mortem Lesions

There may be very few gross pathological findings.  Dilated swollen small intestines fluid filled.  Sometimes congestion of the stomach or small intestines may be seen.  The intestinal contents will be alkaline.

Ecoli gross postmortem piglet

Ecoli piglet bowel loops

Gross-postmortem findings dilated small intestines and stomach

Loops of bowel with very watery alkaline diarrhoea

                                    

Diagnosis

Ecoli drawing label

Drawing of the classification of Escherichia coli

Pathogenic swine E. coli are normally classified by:

Have one of the following four fimbriae (attachments) F4 (K88), F5 (K99), F6 (987P) or F41

Haemolytic.  Produce toxins (exotoxins) – LT, Sta or STb.

Most E. coli problems are associated with management and environmental factors, in particular draughts.  Examination of the environment is an essential component to any diagnosis.

As soon as scour starts, submit rectal swabs

If piglets die, submit piglet for post-mortem examination

If scour continues, submit live piglets before treatment

Treatment

Individual litters

Treat whole litter as soon as one piglet starts to show symptoms

Place a trough drinker filled with water, electrolytes and glucose.  This must be replaced at least 4 times daily.  Keep clean

If creep is provided, remove the creep

All piglets to be given colostrum

Administer antimicrobial oral dose measured doses once a day by mouth, see the practice.  Ensure you do not use this medicator for healthy piglets

Inject with a suitable antimicrobial.

Clean up diarrhoea as soon as possible

The stockpeople must wash their hands after treating the piglets and dip their boots in disinfectant

Syringes or oral dosers must not be used on a sick piglet and then used on a healthy piglet

If diarrhoea occurs after day 10 consider coccidiosis

Cross-fostering

Piglets movements must be carefully monitored.  A lot of scouring is associated with fostering.  Review cross-fostering protocols

Utensil movement

All rooms should have their own brush and shovel

Each brush and shovel should be placed in disinfectant when not in use.  Ensure disinfectant is still working

Teeth clipping, tattooing, notching and tail docking equipment must be thoroughly cleaned between rooms

Ensure that the rooms are thoroughly cleaned between batches

Consider lime-washing to enhance hygiene and disinfection

Control

Pressure washing principles must be exemplary

Practice lime washing if possible

Practice all-in/all-out – pig flow

If diarrhoea is a persistent problem have the environment examined in detail i.e. for draughts

Ensure preventative protocols are adhered to, i.e. vaccination and feed-back

F4 genetically resistant pigs are available but not used commercially.

Do not select from sows/gilts who have any history of diarrhoea in the farrowing house.  Over time this will select away from susceptibility towards E. coli types especially F4.

Common differentials

Viral diarrhoea – normally acid intestinal contents.  Coccidiosis

Zoonosis

E. coli has the potential of being zoonotic

 

 


Pre-weaning Scour Protocols

 

Piglet treatments

1

Treat whole litter as soon as one piglet starts to show symptoms

2

Place a cube drinker filled with water, electrolytes and glucose.  This must be replaced at least 4 times daily.  Keep clean

3

If creep is provided, remove the creep

4

All piglets to be given colostrum

5

Administer antimicrobial oral dose measured doses once a day by mouth, see the practice.  Ensure you do not use this medicator for healthy piglets

6

Inject with a suitable antimicrobial.

7

Clean up diarrhoea as soon as possible

8

The stockpeople must wash their hands after treating the piglets and dip their boots in disinfectant

9

Syringes or oral dosers must not be used on a sick piglet and then used on a healthy piglet

10

If diarrhoea occurs after day 10 consider coccidiosis

Cross-fostering

1

Piglets movements must be carefully monitored.  A lot of diarrhoea is associated with fostering.  Review cross-fostering protocols

Movements of utensils and people from one room to the next

2

All rooms should have their own brush and shovel

3

Each brush and shovel should be placed in disinfectant when not in use.  Ensure disinfectant is still working

4

Teeth clipping, tattooing, notching and tail docking equipment must be thoroughly cleaned between rooms

5

Ensure that the rooms are thoroughly cleaned between batches

6

Consider lime-washing to enhance hygiene and disinfection

Investigation

1

As soon as diarrhoea starts, submit rectal swabs

2

If piglets die, submit piglet for post-mortem examination

3

If diarrhoea continues, submit live piglets before treatment

Long term

1

Pressure washing principles must be exemplary

2

Practice lime washing if possible

3

Practice all-in/all-out – pig flow

4

If scour is a persistent problem have the environment examined in detail i.e. for drafts

5

Ensure preventative protocols are adhered to, i.e. vaccination and feed-back

 

 

 


Classic “causes” of pre-weaning diarrhoea

 

1

A range of disease agents – E. coli, TGE, Coccidiosis, Clostridia, Rotovirus etc.

2

Almost any air movement is undesirable >0.2 m/sec (> 50 feet/min)  is  a draught

3

Chilling of the piglets, check lying patterns and creep temperatures (ideally 30•C)

4

Variable temperatures in the creep

5

Damp floors particularly in the creep area

6

Poor colostrum intake

7

No milk in the sows, check udder line – mycotoxins and management

8

Degree of cross-fostering

9

Piglet treatments not been clean enough,  Check cross-contamination between healthy and sick piglets

10

Infection transfer - is there a separate brush and scrape for each room, foot baths, personal hygiene

11

Poor room cleaning between batches

12

Number of sows farrowing each week, application of all-in all out and pig flow

13

Presence of udder oedema

14

Amount of navel bleeding

15

Type of iron injection utilised, more post-weaning scour

16

Vaccine storage protocols

 

As part of the investigation, if post-mortem examinations are required, select an acutely sick piglet, not a chronic piglet which is likely to have secondary infections which may mask the actual causal agent(s).