Brachyspira Colitis


Other names

Porcine Colonic spirochaetosis, PCS. Serpulina pilosicoli.

Causal agent

Brachyspira pilosicoli a bacteria

Age group

Mainly affects 10-20 week old growers/finishers (30-90 kg)

Clinical signs

Naive herds

A non-fatal wasting diarrhoea disease of growing pigs

Results in increased days to finish

Results in a reduction in feed efficiency

Produces watery/grey brown diarrhoea or loose stools

The clinical signs are more common 10-14 days after mixing and change of feed i.e to the grower ration

50% of pigs may show transient to persistent watery to mucoid green to brownish diarrhoea without blood -resembles a cow pat.



Pigs are infected by faecal-oral transmission

There are numerous other associated hosts:- dogs, mice, birds, guinea pigs, primates and probably also humans

Incubation period


6 to 14 days

Stress factors


Reduce stressors - transport, overcrowding, commingling, resorting, abrupt dietary changes, improper ventilation, wide fluctuation in temperature and inadequate feeders and water allocation

Post-mortem Lesions


The colon and small intestine may demonstrate areas of inflammation, both acute and chronic.  The spiral colon contains abundant watery green or yellow mucoid and frothy contents.  Erosions in the colonic mucosa may be evident



The organism results in intestinal mucosal damage and inflammation resulting in enteritis/colitis reducing the surface area of the large intestine available, which reduces the absorptive capacity of the intestine reducing efficiency of feed utilisation.  The large intestine is critical for absorption of fluids and nutrients therefore resulting in diarrhoea.  Damage to the intestinal wall may also aid the disease and their toxins to gain access to the rest of the body resulting in systemic effects.




Bacteriological culture needed, however, samples need to be transported in a media such as Amies transport media

PCR (DNA analysis) can identify the organism

Histological analysis by silver stains

Review the health records



Aim to identify subclinical infected carriers

Reduce environmental contamination

Increase sanitation

Antimicrobial therapy in both water and feed may be useful

Reduce access to wildlife, birds and rodents for example in feed stores

Reduce concurrent causes of enteritis/colitis

Eliminate all draughts and chilling

Move towards all-in/all-out

Reduce scrape through passageways

Common differentials


Swine dysentery, Salmonellosis, TGE, PE (ileitis), Intestinal parasites -Trichuris suis or Isospora suis (whip worms or Coccidiosis)

Zoonotic implications - human risk


It is possible that the disease may be similar to human colonic inflammation and may therefore have a health significance