Aujeszky's is a notifiable disease which hasn’t been seen in Great Britain since 1989, so should we be worried about it?
Well although it hasn’t been seen here for nearly 30 years, the virus is still present in pig herds in many areas of Europe. It is mostly in Southern and Eastern Europe, but this includes countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal. So although they are geographically quite distant, they are countries with which we are actively trading, and between us there is a large amount of people traffic. In addition wild boar further north and west have been found to be carrying Aujeszky's disease including in France, Germany and Austria. So although it is not our top concern when it comes to notifiable disease, it’s definitely one we need to be vigilant for!
What does it look like?
Pre-weaning Piglets: Shaking, incoordination, paddling, dog-sitting, high mortality
Wean-Finish Pigs: Breathing difficulties, some nervous signs as listed above
Adult Pigs: Often mild disease, may see breathing difficulties, nervous or reproductive issues
The signs are most dramatic in the farrowing house. Here the piglets behaviour changes should be very obvious and the mortality in piglets under 2 weeks of age can be as high as 100%. The other unique thing about this disease is that it can affect other animals on the farm, it has been shown to infect cattle and sheep, but infection is most commonly seen in the farm cats and dogs. Signs in dogs may be salivation, muscle spasms, vocalisation, aggression and death. The neurological signs the virus causes have led to the virus’ other name “pseudo-rabies”. So a typical presentation will be a large amount of dead piglets with the farm dogs and cats laid out dead beside them.
How could Aujeszky's enter the UK?
It could enter in a live pig, in infected pig meat products, or on equipment/materials that had been near infected pigs. So good national biosecurity is important to stop these things from crossing the border in the first place.
Treating your farm boundary like another border control area could stop the virus from getting onto your farm:
Do not allow pig meat products to enter the site.
Ensure no kitchen scraps or human food is fed to pigs.
Ensure all visitors have been distant from other pigs for 48 hours, and have showered and changed clothing and footwear.
Provide all visitors with cleaned and disinfected clothing and footwear.
Ensure all vehicles are cleaned and disinfected before entering the farm.
These are the basics of biosecurity that could protect you from Aujeszky's, and many other diseases. Remember, if your pigs are showing any of the above signs always ring your veterinarian for advice.
For further information please contact Zoetis UK Limited, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. www.zoetis.co.uk Customer Support: 0845 300 8034. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible). Date of preparation: August 2018. MM-03782
Laura graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2009; after her veterinary degree she went to the University of Nottingham to undertake a PhD specialising in enteric disease of the young pig. After being awarded her PhD Laura spent a very enjoyable three years in a specialist pig practice in the South West of England. She then took the leap into Industry and joined the Zoetis pig team in September 2016.
She decided on specialising in pigs before qualifying as a vet and has not looked back since; she is very passionate about welfare and the success of British Pig Farming!
In her free time Laura is also passionate about good food and wine, fortunately the eating and drinking is balanced out by the love of walking, trips to the gym and Sunday morning runs.