Pig Diamond Skin Disease: Identifying and Treating

Pig Diamond skin disease is also known as swine erysipelas in pigs

Diamond Skin Disease (Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae infection- Zoonotic)

Pig Diamond skin disease, also known as swine erysipelas, is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae. Diamond Skin disease is a skin disease named after the diamond patches it leaves on the pigs’ skin. It causes fever, skin lesions, blood poisoning, arthritis, and sometimes, sudden death. 

Did you know?: 50% of the swine population carries this disease in their tonsils.

Swine erysipelas is zoonotic but can only pass to humans through cuts or skin punctures, so take care when handling raw pork. Diamond Skin bacteria infect all ages of pigs that don’t have a robust immune system. Pigs between three months to three years old are the most susceptible.

Unfortunately, this bacteria is resilient and can survive up to five days in contaminated drinking water and 35 days in sewage. Hygienic management of pigs is essential for prevention and treatment.

Causes of Diamond Skin Disease

Most diamond skin infections are caused when your pig ingests contaminated food, feces, or soil which causes the bacteria to grow in their gut or tonsils. 

Another cause of this disease is when pigs injure their feet or legs on damaged floor slates in their living space. Vector insects such as flies will then bite and feed on your pig’s open wounds, causing the bacteria to enter the pig’s body. foo

Symptoms of Diamond Skin Disease

Look out for these symptoms if you suspect your pig has Diamond Skin Disease:

  • Increasing fever
  • Slightly raised, diamond-shaped, purplish-red patches on the skin
  • Develops septicemia
  • Lack of energy
  • Painful joints
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bristling of hairs where the lesions are going to form
  • Sudden death (in severe cases)

Treating Diamond Skin Disease

The most successful form of treatment is to administer Penicillin to your pig. Ask your vet for an antiserum to help with their symptoms in the early stages. Prevention is always better than cure, and it’s advised that you have your pigs vaccinated with a multivalent bacterin against this disease (such as Lepto-Eryvac) every six months.


The University of Michigan Library Erysipelas

Talitha van Niekerk

Hi, I’m Talitha van Niekerk, and I made the leap to farm animal ownership when I decided to fulfil my lifelong passion to own horses. Now, over a decade later, I run a public stable facility on 180 acres of land, caring for over 75 horses of all breeds and sizes. I love to write about my experiences, sharing the knowledge I have gained and helping others achieve their life’s passion to live on the land. See my about page here.

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