Post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome is the hottest topic in the swine-health world these days. Last month’s annual meeting of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians dedicated nearly a day’s worth of sessions discussing the syndrome.

PMWS cases involving a strain referred to as “European PMWS” are on the rise in the Ontario and Quebec provinces in Canada. Some reports of increasing PMWS challenges have surfaced in North Carolina, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana, but so far the syndrome has not been specifically linked to the European strain.

PMWS has often but not always been associated with Porcine Circovirus Type 2 (PCV-2). Some of PMWS’ clinical signs include severe body wasting, pale skin color and enlarged nymph nodes. Mortality rates run very high—20 percent to 40 percent and higher. Pigs often die in the finishing phase.

Veterinarians continue to dissect the details of what they know and don’t know about the disease. But, there are some details with which you and your staff should become familiar. The National Pork Board offers the following information points:

  • PMWS is not a food-safety nor a public-health issue.
  • PMWS is not related to other “wasting” diseases reported in species, such as elk and deer.
  • PMWS associated with Porcine Circovirus-2 has been present in the United States since the 1990s. Recent cases appear to be more severe than those previously seen.
  • In the past, PMWS was associated with weaned pigs. Recent cases report PMWS in four-to eight-week-old pigs, after they are placed in the finisher.
  • PMWS is described as a syndrome rather than as an infectious disease because it frequently requires more factors than infection with PCV-2.
  • Other agents isolated from recent PMWS cases include porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, swine influenza virus and Mycoplasma pneumonia.
  • Factors that may affect the disease presentation are time of year, environment stress, history or presence of other diseases on the farm.

  So, what can you do?

  • Enforce the following strict biosecurity measures: operate all buildings as all-in/all-out, clean and disinfect between animal groups, wear farm-specific clothing, control visitors and vehicles entering the farm, isolate incoming animals and use semen from PCV-2-negative boars.
  • Contact the herd veterinarian and have a laboratory diagnosis initiated if unknown health problems or the previously noted symptoms surface.
  • Properly dispose of all dead animals immediately.