By Dr Andrew Tucker, CS Vet
Clostridium perfringens Type C is a bacteria that colonises the large intestine of newly born piglets. It can colonise the jejunum and ileum within 12 to 24 hours of birth. Here it then causes damage to the cells lining the intestinal wall. It causes damage by releasing toxins as well as penetrating these cells. Toxins can also be absorbed into the rest of the piglet’s body.
How do you know if it’s on your farm?
Affected piglets are healthy at birth. They then contract the disease in the first few days after birth and die within 12 to 24 hours after the onset of clinical signs. The most distinctive clinical sign is severe bloody diarrhoea. Piglets may become thin and pale before death or may just be found dead.
Diagnosis can be suspected after typical clinical signs and post mortem findings. Confirmation of the diagnosis can be achieved with various laboratory techniques.
How do you treat or prevent it?
Treatment is not very successful and the focus should rather be on prevention. Prophylactic use of antibiotics as well as improved hygiene can reduce the number of cases but more permanent control is achieved by means of vaccination.
Sow vaccines are available, which provide protection to the piglets provided they ingest an adequate quantity of colostrum.
Pig Diseases – D.J. Taylor; Diseases of Swine – Straw, Zimmerman, D’Allaire, Taylor