Quick guide to Glasser’s disease

Dr Andrew Tucker – Charles Street Veterinary Consultancy
Glasser’s disease is caused by the infection of pigs with the bacteria Haemophilus parasuis. The bacteria is spread primarily by contact and the aerosol route and has an incubation period of as short as 12 hours. Outbreaks usually occur in piglets 3-6 weeks of age but any age pig can be affected. The bacteria starts by colonising the tracheal mucus and then progresses into causing pneumonia. As the infection progresses further you get a build up of fluid in the thorax and abdomen. In the chronic form of the disease this fluid organises to leave peritonitis and pleuritis which often persists until slaughter.
How do you know if it’s on your farm?
First signs present as a sudden onset of fever and anorexia. A nasal discharge, difficult breathing and coughing can also be seen.
Lameness is also often seen as the joints become swollen and painful. Pigs may die 2-5 days after infection. Clinical signs may be overlooked until the signs of chronic disease appear. Here you will see mainly recumbent pigs and signs of meningitis.
The clinical signs above should make one suspect the disease. Post mortem findings are typical and final confirmation can be gained by isolating the organism in a laboratory.
How do you treat or prevent it?
All-in all-out practices as well as thorough washing and particularly drying of buildings can help to reduce the chance of infection on the farm.
Antibiotic treatment is effective as long as the disease is treated in the early phase.
Once in the chronic phase the response to treatment takes much longer. Vaccines are available where farms have persistent problems. Eradication has not yet been reported.
References:
Pig Diseases – D.J.Taylor; Diseases of Swine – Straw, Zimmerman, D’Allaire, Taylor

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