Scours (severe diarrhoea) | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

Scours (severe diarrhoea)

Scours, or severe diarrhoea, is extremely common in pigs. Of all the diseases in the suckling piglet, diarrhoea is the most common and probably the most important. In some outbreaks, it is responsible for high morbidity and mortality. It is caused by many factors, though the environmental factors associated with scours is telling:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of bedding (many indoor unites provide no bedding and this leads to reduced temperature control and lack of benefit from roughage intake)
  • Unclean bedding (if pens do contain straw, it is often filthy and this spreads infection)
  • Large group size
  • Overcrowding
  • Dirty water or lack of provision
  • Poor feed bin hygiene

In poor environments, scours can occur without the major infectious causes being present.

The most common infectious cause of scours in growing pigs are: swine dysentery; PIA (Porcine Intestinal Adenomatosis) or iletis and colitis (a vague term used to describe varying degrees of scour). Less common causes are salmonella, E. coli and parasitic infections. Severity is influenced by housing and diet. Salmonella may infect a pig with no disease occurring, but other types of salmonella cause acute generalised illness and can cause scours in people.