Pork producers should be on alert for increased incidence of swine erysipelas, especially in Midwest herds. During a recent National Pork Board/AASV Sentinel Veterinary Clinic call, several Midwest veterinarians reported an increase in clinical observations of the disease in both finished and slaughtered hogs, according to a report from the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV).

As a result of this finding, additional discussions were held with USDA APHIS-Veterinary Services regarding available information about slaughter condemnations. For the first two months of 2012, multiple Midwest slaughter facilities also recorded an increase in condemnations from suspect erysipelas carcasses. Monitoring for unusual increases in slaughter condemnations is ongoing and further information on erysipelas cases will be evaluated.

In 1999-2000, a dramatic increase in clinical cases of erysipelas on-farm and in the plant occurred. For 2012, with initial information from Sentinel Clinic veterinarians and slaughter data indicating that erysipelas activity may be increasing, producers and their veterinarians should be aware of this concern and take appropriate actions for the treatment and prevention of the disease in their herds. Laboratory confirmation of the disease is also recommended.

“As part of a herd health plan, it always is appropriate to confirm the diagnosis of erysipelas because many of the clinical signs such as skin lesions can also be indicative of other diseases including Actinobacillus suis or Mycoplasma,” says Lisa Becton, DVM, director of swine health information and research, National Pork Board. “Erysipelas can occur in a wide range of animals including adults, developing gilts and finisher pigs.”

Vaccination of replacement gilts, adult animals and finish hogs can aid in the prevention of erysipelas lesions and losses. “Each producer should work with their veterinarian to determine what is best for each herd,” says Becton. “Vaccines can be effective for prevention and control of erysipelas in herds.  There are different administration methods for vaccines to include injection and oral or water system delivery.”

Erysipelas can cause a wide range of symptoms in susceptible animals including one or more of the following signs:  fever; lethargy; off-feed; diamond-shaped, reddened skin lesion (but not always); lameness and/or unwilling to walk or move easily; and swollen joint(s). “Producers should work with their veterinarians to decide the best course of therapy for each situation and to properly document all treatment information as outlined in the PQA Plus guidelines,” Becton adds.

For additional information, please contact Becton, (lbecton@pork.org) at the National Pork Board.