By Nancy Shepherd
Atrophic Rhinitis (AR): AR is elusive to diagnose, treat, and understand and it is one disease that especially concerns breeders. Animals are at greater risk of contracting AR when pigs enter and leave the herd, attend shows, and have physical contact with visitors from other herds. AR is caused by the two bacteria, BordeteIla bronchiseptica and Pasteurella multocida. Symptoms may include slow growth, sneezing, watery eyes, nosebleeds, and distortion of the nose. The organisms that cause rhinitis are primarily transmitted from one pig to another. There is a remote chance that humans as well as wild and domestic animals also carry the bacteria responsible for causing AR. Pigs can build natural immunity to these bacteria and pass this immunity on to offspring through colostrum, the first milk a sow gives after farrowing. Therefore, maintaining an older sow herd may decrease the severity of this disease.
A precaution to take against AR is screening new pigs for the disease. Ask the breeder if the pig is vaccinated against AR. If the pig isn’t vaccinated but is from a potbellied pig herd that has no history or symptoms of AR, the pig is probably free from the disease; however, some pigs may carry these bacteria without showing any symptoms. When you bring new pigs onto your premises, always isolate them for thirty days. If a newly acquired pig or one from your herd exhibits symptoms of AR, you may wish to have a nasal culture grown. This will determine if Bordetella or Pasteurella bacteria are present. You can then treat with the drug that is sensitive to the organism found. Your vet will be able to translate the lab results into a treatment program that will best suit your pig. While a preliminary diagnosis can be made from a nasal swab, it is nearly impossible to make a positive diagnosis of atrophic rhinitis without a postmortem.
Fifty percent of all commercial pigs have mild rhinitis and do just fine. It is only in severe cases that the nose becomes disfigured and twisted. When this damage to the turbinates (a sophisticated filtering structure within the nose) occurs, pigs are more prone to respiratory infections and will not be as thrifty.
If you have any reason to suspect that AR could be a problem, vaccination is a good and necessary response. Below is the schedule tailored by my veterinarian. Consult with your vet to see if this program is right for you.
Toxivac AD + E (Rhinitis Bacterin-Toxoid) NOBL Laboratories, Inc., Sioux City, IA.
Sows and Gilts –Vaccinate intramuscularly with two doses (2 cc each) at 5 weeks and 2 weeks prior to initial farrowing. Vaccinate with 1 dose (2 cc) at 3 weeks prior to subsequent farrowings. Vaccinate all new replacement breeding stock with 2 doses (2 cc each) spaced a minimum of 2-3 weeks apart prior to entry into breeding herd.
Boars –Initially vaccinate intramuscularly with 2 doses (2 cc each) spaced a minimum of 2 or 3 weeks apart. Revaccinate annually.
Rhinicell (Bordetella Bronchiseptica Vaccine-Live Culture) Grand Laboratories, Inc., Larchwood, IA. (This live culture helps young piglets build an immunity to the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria.)
Piglets–Administer 1/2 cc into each nostril at 1 day of age.
Toxivac AD + E
Piglets –1/2 cc at 10 days of age
1 cc at 24 days of age (2 weeks after first dose)
1 cc at 38 days of age (2 weeks after second dose)
Even though this disease is very difficult to diagnosis and treat, these preventive measures may deter AR from developing in your herd.
© Nancy Shepherd 1995