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Parasitism (Gastrointestinal) in Pigs


Eric R. Burrough

, DVM, PhD, Iowa State University

Last full review/revision Sep 2021 | Content last modified Sep 2021

Ascaris suum is the most common intestinal nematode of pigs. Adult nematodes in the intestine reduce feed efficiency and impair vitamin A absorption; heavy infections cause emaciation. Larval migration incites inflammation in the liver and lungs.

Cryptosporidium sp is an apicomplexan parasite that attaches to the mucosal epithelium of the intestine of pigs ≥10 days old. It may cause villous atrophy in the lower small intestine; however, inapparent infection is common. Malabsorption and diarrhea may result.

Hyostrongylus rubidus is the common stomach worm found in pasture-raised pigs. It usually causes little harm.

Cystoisospora suis is a common and important cause of coccidiosis Coccidiosis of Pigs Eight species of Eimeria and one of Isospora infect pigs in North America. Piglets 5–15 days old are characteristically infected with only I suis, which produces enteritis and diarrhea. These... read more in piglets 6 days to 3 weeks old. Infection causes necrosis and villous atrophy of the ileum and jejunum. Secondary bacterial infection of the injured intestinal mucosa is common. Mortality is often 20%–25%, and many affected pigs are stunted. Diagnosis can be based on identification of immature coccidial forms in the intestinal mucosa by direct mucosal smear (Giemsa stain) or by histologic examination of the affected intestinal tissue. Successful prevention most commonly depends on thorough cleaning of farrowing facilities to minimize the number of oocysts. After cleaning, thorough disinfection with 50% bleach has been useful. Coccidiostats are sometimes fed to sows 2 weeks before farrowing or administered orally to pigs from birth to 3 weeks old.

Adult nodular worms of Oesophagostomum spp in the large intestine cause little harm; however, heavy infection by larvae encysted in the intestinal wall may lead to emaciation.

Strongyloides ransomi (intestinal threadworm) larvae can be transmitted via colostrum or acquired from contaminated skin of the dam. Heavily infected piglets develop severe diarrhea when 10–14 days old, with high mortality. Diagnosis is based on direct microscopic examination of mucosal scrapings.

Trichuris suis (whipworms) penetrate the mucosa of the cecum and colon and cause multifocal inflammation. Heavy infections cause diarrhea and emaciation. The feces are hemorrhagic; therefore, heavy whipworm infections may be confused clinically with swine dysentery Swine Dysentery Swine dysentery is a mucohemorrhagic diarrheal disease of pigs that is limited to the large intestine. Swine dysentery is most often observed in growing-finishing pigs and is associated with... read more Swine Dysentery or proliferative enteropathy Porcine Proliferative Enteropathy Porcine proliferative enteropathy is a common diarrheal disease of growing-finishing pigs and young breeding pigs, characterized by hyperplasia and inflammation of the jejunum, ileum, cecum... read more Porcine Proliferative Enteropathy . Diagnosis is based on direct observation of whipworms in the large intestine or on fecal flotation.

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