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Clostridium is a watery, yellowish, sometimes bloody diarrhoea, caused by the Clostridium perfringens bacteria and causes diarrhoea in piglets. Clostridium perfringens is a Gram-positive, spore-forming, rod-shaped bacteria. It is a particularly hardy bacteria that causes damage to the intestines. An infection can occur just a few hours after birth.

What is Clostridium in piglets?

There are two types of Clostridium perfringens that cause diarrhoea in young piglets:

  • Type A causes a mild, mucousy diarrhoea, resulting in growth delays
  • Type C causes bloody diarrhoea and has a high mortality in piglets

The percentage of piglets in a litter affected by Clostridium perfringens is roughly 50%—the mortality rate in affected piglets is nearly 100%.

Cause of Clostridium in piglets?

The Clostridium bacteria occurs in sow faeces. Pigs take in the bacteria through the snout, which leaves the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of the piglets. Proper hygiene is essential for the prevention or control of the infection.

Symptoms of Clostridium in piglets

Yellowish, watery, sometimes bloody diarrhoea.

Effects of Clostridium in piglets

  • Increased mortality
  • Decreased growth
  • High treatment costs

Prevention of Clostridium in piglets

To prevent problems caused by Clostridium as best possible, proper cleaning and disinfecting of the farrowing pen is required. The Clostridium bacteria is primarily located in the faeces of sows who had been there previously. A problem with Clostridium is that it also forms spores. These spores settle into the faeces and can survive for long periods.

Cleaning and disinfecting

It is important to use a pre-soak treatment and disinfecting agent that attack the spores. Clostridium bacteria can be handled by following the hygiene protocol below.

  • Good preparation: Remove faeces and other materials that do not belong in the stall.
  • Scrub: Scrub the stall and the materials inside it with a pre-soak treatment that has a long contact time, such as MS Topfoam LC ALK (apply at 2% concentration and allow it to sit for a maximum of 2 hours).
  • Clean: Spray down the stall at high pressure, rinse at low pressure, and leave to dry.
  • Disinfect: To eliminate the remaining bacteria and especially the spores, it is important to disinfect using an agent with a broad range of applications, such as MS Oxydes. Rinse with water and leave to dry.

Wash the sows

The faeces on the skin of the sows can also contain Clostridium bacteria and spores. It also recommended to wash the sows with MS Vaske-Dyr Forte before moving to the farrowing pen.

Personal hygiene

In addition to proper cleaning and disinfecting, personal hygiene is also important. The hands, clothing, and footwear of the animal caretaker can easily carry the pathogen from one pen to the other. It is also recommended that gloves be worn when handling the piglets. Disinfecting the hands with an alcoholic solution is insufficient for eliminating bacteria as the spores survive.

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