Herd Health

Herd Health: What to do about post-weaning pigs that fail to thrive?

Many remedies have been tried to alleviate what some call ‘Post-Weaning Catabolic Syndrome’ but with limited results


At the last University of Minnesota Leman Swine Conference in September 2008, a panel consisting of Drs. Luc Dufresne from Seaboard Foods, Steve Henry from Abilene Animal Hospital in Abilene, Kan., and Tom Fangman from Boehringer Ingelheim (USA) presented their collective findings on an evolving syndrome of post-weaning pigs that fail to thrive. They labelled this “Post-Weaning Catabolic Syndrome.” 

Health: Listeriosis – rare in pigs, becoming more frequent in humans

The outbreak at Maple Leaf’s Toronto plant made headlines. What is listeriosis, how common is it and how can it be avoided?


The listeriosis outbreak traced back to contaminated processed meats from a Maple Leaf processing plant in Toronto jumped on to national and international headlines in mid-August.

At the time of writing, more than 50 people had become ill with 19 deaths confirmed, mostly in Ontario, but also in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Almost all deaths have been in the elderly (over 70 years old), many in nursing homes or hospitals. All evidence to date indicates the outbreak is linked to contamination in a meat slicer in the Maple Leaf processing plant.

Herd Health: What is Toxoplasma gondii?

Toxoplasma gondii is a microscopic parasite which can infect all warm-blooded animals, including humans. Cats are the most common carriers of Toxoplasma gondii and they shed infective parasite eggs (called oocysts) in their feces.
People can become infected if they don’t wash their hands after they change cat litter or if they garden in areas where cats have defecated. People can also pick up the parasite by consuming infected game meat, such as bear. Pork is also considered to be an important source of Toxoplasma gondii infection in people.

Herd Health: Mapping Ontario’s PRRS virus strains

The ‘PRRS Project’ is well on its way to tracing the new and virulent strains of PRRS virus that caused havoc in Ontario herds in 2004 and 2005


It’s almost three years since we embarked on “the PRRS Project” after the new and highly virulent strains of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus swept through Ontario in the fall of 2004 and the winter and spring of 2005, causing epidemic PRRS outbreaks in many herds.

PRRS virus mapping – funded by Ontario Pork and colloquially termed “PRRS Project #1” – was first off the mark and got started in January 2006.  I’ll be providing updates on the other PRRS Project activities being undertaken by the Ontario Pork Industry Council Swine Health Advisory Board (OSHAB) at a later date.

Herd Health: What does the future hold for PCV2?

Will a new mutated virus come along and, if so, will present vaccines work against it? Can we stop using the vaccine or do we have to go on forever? These are just some of the questions now surfacing in the wake of the recent epidemic


Now that circovirus vaccines have been such a resounding success, where do we go with circovirus (PCV2) from now on? What else does it have in store for us?

For instance, there is talk that another new mutated PCV2 virus may come along and that the current vaccines might no longer provide protection against this “new” strain. This, of course, is purely speculative.

Herd Health: How concerned should we be about MRSA ‘super bugs’ on pig farms?

The discovery of methicillin-resistant Staphylocccus aureus (MRSA) in Ontario pigs and pig workers is raising alarm bells in the medical and public health communities that pig-associated MRSAs might extend out into the general population.


Recently, a mini-media frenzy erupted over a publication by researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), University of Guelph, who had reported the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylocccus aureus (MRSA) in a high percentage of pigs and pig farmers in a survey of Ontario swine herds.

Herd Health: What the Krakow Symposium tells us about PCV2 transmission via spray-dried plasma protein

Two papers presented at last summer’s Krakow Emerging Diseases Symposium presented seemingly contradictory results. But caution is needed in interpreting their findings


Spray-dried plasma protein (SDPP) has become an essential component of piglet feeds over the last two decades and is widely used in piglet feeds across North America and elsewhere. Very soon after the circovirus epidemic exploded in Quebec and Ontario in 2004/2005, speculation was rife about the possibility of SDPP being involved in the spread of the deadly PCV type 2 (PCV2) virus.

Herd Health: PCV2 takes centre stage at the Krakow symposium

A summary of some findings from the numerous studies presented 5th International Symposium on Emerging and Re-emerging Pig Diseases


The 5th International Symposium on Emerging and Re-emerging Pig Diseases was held in the beautiful and historic city of Krakow, Poland last June 24-27. This symposium has grown significantly in stature and number of attendees since the first one held in St. Paul, Minn., in 1991.

The first three symposia were devoted exclusively to PRRS and Aujezsky’s (pseudorabies) diseases. The name of the symposium was changed to its current form in 2003 when PCV2/ PMWS was added and Aujezsky’s Disease (AD) was removed, as more and more of the major pig-producing countries successfully eradicated the disease. It should be noted that Canada is one country that has never had AD.

With over 1,200 attendees, this was easily the largest of the five symposia and had nearly twice as many as at the previous highest attendance in Rome in 2003. This symposium focused on PCV2, PRRS and Swine Influenza Virus. PCV2 took centre stage, however, surpassing PRRS in both the number of submitted papers (Table 1) and in capturing the attention of the delegates.

This article is devoted to brief reviews of selected papers on porcine circovirus disease presented at Krakow.