Red disease in pigs - Symptoms and treatment

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Red disease or porcine erysipelas is a notifiable disease which can be very serious in pigs. The first image that comes to mind about this disease are the reddish skin lesions around the pig's skin. However, bad red can lead to much more symptoms, from septicemic forms to arthritic or endocardial forms with sudden death.

The control of this disease must be through vaccination, since the bacterium is very resistant in the environment and with a high contagion capacity, so eradication is really difficult. Keep reading this AnimalWised article to learn more about the Red disease in pigs, its symptoms and treatment.

You may also be interested in: Bad Breath in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Index
  1. What is red disease in pigs?
  2. What Causes Red Pig Bad?
  3. Clinical forms of red disease in pigs and their symptoms
  4. Diagnosis of red disease in pigs
  5. Treatment of red disease in pigs

What is red disease in pigs?

The bad red pig is a infectious and highly contagious disease that affects pigs causing acute cutaneous and septicemic pictures, as well as chronic pictures with arthritis, dermatitis and endocarditis. Other animals that can be affected are wild boars, turkeys, sheep or fish. Sick people can also be affected, since bad red is a zoonosis, causing a skin lesion called Eripsela de Rosenbach.

It is a multifactorial disease, so environmental factors intervene In its development. These factors are:

  • High temperatures.
  • High humidity.
  • Climate changes.
  • Pig groups.
  • Dietary changes.
  • Transport.
  • Other infections (mycotoxins, PRRS, parasitosis ...).
  • Vaccinations.
  • Consanguinity.
  • Differences in temperature between day and night.

You may also be interested in this other article on the most common diseases of Vietnamese pigs.

Image: Axon Veterinary

What Causes Red Bad Pig?

The disease is caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiupathiae, a bacterium rod-shaped, aerobic or facultative anaerobic, sensitive to a pH below 7.5.

Infected pigs shed porcine eripsela through feces, oronasal exudates, urine, and semen; and they become infected orally by consuming food or water contaminated with the bacteria or by contact with an infected animal or in the covers. Pigs are more susceptible between 10 weeks and 10 months of age.

The bacterium is very resistant in the environment, it remains for months in the facilities, meat and flour. It is eliminated with quaternary disinfectants ammonium, soda, formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde.

In addition, it has two serovariants:

  • Serovariant 1: very virulent, causes septicemic pictures.
  • Serovariant 2: less virulent. Causes the chronic and subacute forms.

Clinical forms of red disease in pigs and their symptoms

The incubation period is short, with a maximum of 7 days. This disease can lead to septicemic (acute or subacute), urticarial, endocardial, arthritic and dermal forms.

Septicemic forms of porcine red disease

After being infected, the bacteria go to the tonsils or Peyer's patches, which are lymphoid structures. Then will be located in the blood, damaging the endothelium of blood vessels thanks to neuroaminidase, which also decreases the viability of blood cells. This releases fibrin and causes ischemic necrosis of the perivascular tissues, hyaline thrombi, edema, accumulation of monocytes in the vascular wall, anemia, hemolysis, immunosuppression, coagulopathies and thrombocytopenia..

The acute form it is characterized by:

  • Fever.
  • Apathy.
  • Anorexy.
  • Painful arthritis.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • Blepharoconjunctivitis.
  • Decay.
  • Lethargy.
  • Skin erythemas, consisting of reddish-pinkish skin lesions, with fuzzy and irregular edges and flat surface on ears, back and slopes.

The subacute form It occurs when the pig has some immunity. They hardly have any symptoms, and fever, respiratory signs, growth retardation and abortions may appear..

Urticarial form of porcine red disease

It is usually produced by serovar 2 in immunized animals. The bacteria in this case goes to the skin, where it causes injury to the dermal capillaries and is characterized by:

  • Moderate fever.
  • Bad general state.
  • Restlessness.
  • Anorexy.
  • Skin papules of deep red color, polyhedral, with a warm and non-painful raised surface on the external aspect of the hind limbs, dorsal-lumbar area, ears and back. These lesions evolve into vesicles, dark discolored lesions in the center, and crusts that peel off..

Endocardial form of porcine red disease

It is produced by evolution in a septicemic form. A verrucous proliferative valvular endocarditis in the mitral valve, which may be accompanied by aortic stenosis. This produces:

  • Endothelial degeneration.
  • Thrombosis.
  • Dyspnoea.
  • Tachypnea.
  • Cyanosis.
  • Sudden death from collapse.
  • Stunted growth.

Arthritic form of swine red disease

Also caused by the evolution of a septicemic form. At the beginning there is a acute arthritis in which bacteria-rich synovial fluid accumulates, making the joint hot, painful, and inflamed. The pig will present:

  • Walking on tiptoe.
  • Pain.
  • Limp.
  • Stunted growth.
  • Ankylosis.
  • Lordosis.

Dermal form of porcine red disease

It is produced by evolution of a urticarial form, it occurs only in places with very poor conditions. It is produced dermatitis with cold, dry, numb skin that comes off as if it were paper or cardboard.

Diagnosis of red disease in pigs

Swine red disease is suspected if symptoms appear in pigs between 10 weeks and 10 months of age, under favorable environmental and zootechnical conditions or if there has been a deficiency in the vaccination plan. The differential diagnosis Red disease in pigs includes the following swine diseases:

  • Classic Swine Fever.
  • African swine fever.
  • Swine salmonellosis.
  • Pasteurella multocida serotype B.
  • Clostridiosis.

After obtaining the samples (blood, spleen, heart, liver and lung), direct or indirect laboratory tests will be carried out. The direct laboratory diagnosis is the one indicated, in which the bacterium is searched, by:

  • Culture and Isolation in Blood Agar Media.
  • PCR.
  • Immuunohistochemistry.
  • Bacterioscopy (viewing the bacteria under a microscope).

Indirect laboratory diagnosis looks for red disease antibodies, by:

  • Indirect ELISA: although it is not very useful, due to vaccination and carriers. It is used to check the level of antibodies against the disease.

Treatment of red disease in pigs

The eradication of the disease does not arise, due to the high permanence in the environment and the large number of carriers of the infection. Before the appearance of an outbreak of bad red in a pig community, the following must be done:

  • Isolation of suspects.
  • Antibiotic therapy with beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillins or amoxicillin.
  • Hyperimmune serums, although they are in disuse.
  • Separate the sick.
  • Cleaning and disinfection.

Red pig disease vaccine

Prevention is done with vaccination. Inactivated or monovalent serotype 2 or polyvalent vaccines are used. The vaccination schedule is the next:

  • Piglets at 3 months the first dose, revaccinated at 3 weeks. In Iberian pigs, revaccination every 3 months due to their long development.
  • In first farrowing sows, two doses (red malignancy + parvovirus) 2-3 weeks before mating.
  • Mal Rojo vaccine + parvovirus in breeding sows 10 days after parturition.
  • Adult male pigs should be revaccinated every 6 months.

Although this is a situation that usually occurs especially on farms, we remember that at AnimalWised we are against animal exploitation, so our recommendation is that if you have a pig as a companion animal, you have a good veterinary control so that this one may have a long and happy life.

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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