To evaluate the relative importance of the various enteropathogens causing neonatal diarrhea in Quebec farrowing operations, observations were made on 749 diarrheic pigs from 325 outbreaks of diarrhea. They were one to 15 days of age, and were obtained alive for necropsy generally within 48 hours of the onset of diarrhea. Some pigs were from severe, explosive outbreaks of diarrhea with high morbidity and mortality rates, while others were from herds with chronic neonatal diarrhea with lower morbidity and mortality rates. A combination of bacteriological, virological and histological methods were used to study the pigs.
Viruses were incriminated in 60%, bacteria in 23% and coccidia in 15.3% of the 325 diarrhea outbreaks. Transmissible gastroenteritis virus was by far the most common enteropathogen with a prevalence of 52%; rotavirus was implicated in 9.2% of the outbreaks while adenovirus was incriminated in 0.30% of the outbreaks. Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli were involved in 22.4% of the cases while Clostridium perfringens type C was an occasional finding. Coccidia involved in our herds were identified as Isospora suis. The disease was attributed to infection with a single etiologic agent in 590 diarrheic pigs (78%) while combinations of agents were present in only 90 (12%).
The age-specific occurrence of the various enteropathogens was evaluated. Transmissible gastroenteritis virus was the most common enteropathogen in all age groups. Colibacillosis was common in pigs which became diarrheic under five days of age; in this age group, the enterotoxigenic E. coli were frequently found alone, but were usually combined with other agents in older pigs. The prevalence of coccidia was high in pigs which became diarrheic between five and 15 days of age. Rotavirus infection was common in diarrheic pigs older than ten days of age. Although individual baby pigs were commonly infected with a single enteropathogen, it was very common to see more than one agent involved in an outbreak of diarrhea, particularly when pigs of different ages were affected.
Observations on the occurrence of the enteropathogens according to the seasons were also made. Occurrence of transmissible gastroenteritis was throughout the year with the highest prevalence during the fall, winter and spring months. Colibacillosis and coccidiosis were more common in the summer, fall and early winter months with the lowest prevalence in the spring months.