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What is Hog Cholera?

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  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2016
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Hog cholera, or swine fever, is a disease that can infect pigs. This viral disease can cause symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and convulsions, and may result in death. Many countries take hog cholera seriously because of the economic risk it poses to the hog industry. As such, some countries may require taking measures such as killing off an entire herd in which an infected pig is found. In countries where the disease has been eradicated, import restrictions, such as a period of quarantine, may be implemented to keep the disease out of the country.

The potential impact of hog cholera necessitates diligent watchfulness from pig farmers. Should a farmer suspect that his pigs have the disease, he should act quickly to prevent it from spreading. Infected swine may appear to be listless and fatigued, and may stop eating, have a fever, and experience coordination problems and convulsions. The disease can manifest as several forms, including mild, chronic, and acute. Each of these forms is highly infectious and dangerous to pigs.

The mild form of hog cholera may be the hardest to detect. The pigs may get sick for a short time, but then seem to get better. With an infected boar, the virus may remain and proliferate in its reproductive tract. An infected sow may have small litters or stillborn piglets. After a time, the infected pig will often have a relapse and die.

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An acute infection is the most severe and fastest acting form of hog cholera. Within two weeks of infection, the pig can die. Symptoms of acute swine fever include a fever between 105°F (about 41°C) and 107°F (about 42°C), lack of eating, vomiting, and diarrhea. Pigs may also huddle together or have trouble walking. Eye problems may also result.

The chronic form of hog cholera is much like the acute version, but advances more slowly. A pig with this form of the disease may be alive for several months before it dies. In addition to other symptoms, a pig may also develop red splotches on its abdomen, ears, and snout.

Hog cholera can be transmitted directly from infected pig to a healthy one. Indirect infections can result in several ways, including via clothing, equipment, food, and water, as well as infected feces or other bodily fluids. An infected mother may also pass on the disease to her piglets in the womb, sometimes resulting in the death of the piglet. Piglets may also be born seemingly healthy, but may still carry the virus and pass it on before they die.

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