Sick Pigs: Identifying and Treating Swine Brucellosis

Swine Brucellosis in pigs is a bacterial disease that results in abortions in pigs

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that results in abortions in pigs. The Brucella suis bacteria cause it and affects pigs of all ages. If your pigs display symptoms, you’ll need to alert the local authorities, as some strains of the disease are highly contagious and can be passed on to humans (zoonotic disease).

If your sow (female pig) is infected, the bacteria will take around 3 to 6 weeks to infiltrate the placenta and cause severe inflammation.

Sadly this disease usually results in abortion.

Causes of Brucellosis

Swine Brucellosis is highly contagious and is spread by nose-to-mouth contact or through a venereal infection (sexually transmitted). The boar (male pig) is the primary carrier of the bacteria and the bacteria is secreted along with the semen.

The bacteria can also be spread if pigs consume dead and aborted piglets or afterbirth. Piglets can contract this disease by suckling an infected mother’s milk. The organism can be shed through the milk.

Brucellosis can be passed to humans through open wounds or from handling infected materials.

Symptoms of Brucellosis

Infected sows will show signs of infertility and bacteremia (bacteria found in the blood). Infection in male pigs can cause permanent damage to their reproductive tract and cause swollen testicles.

Symptoms in piglets include lethargy and paralysis of their hind legs. Weaners (pigs around 6 months old) suffer from swollen testicles or vulval discharge tinged with blood.

Treating Brucellosis

Sadly antibiotic treatment is ineffective against the Brucellosis bacteria. To prevent further spread, the infected pigs will need to be culled. The entire area must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to avoid further spread of the disease.

Ensure your pigs regularly receive the RB51 live vaccine to help increase resistance to the disease.

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.

Recent Posts