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Swine Vesicular Disease

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Exotic animal diseases continue to pose a threat to Welsh livestock. It is therefore necessary to have robust contingency plans in place to deal with them.
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Pigs

Swine Vesicular Disease (SVD) is a contagious, notifiable viral disease of pigs. SVD was first diagnosed in 1966 in Italy and the first outbreak in Great Britain (GB) was in 1972.

Background

532 cases involving a total of 322,081 pigs were confirmed before the disease was eradicated from GB in 1982. SVD has persisted in Italy, where it is now considered endemic, meaning that the disease is always present in the area. The rest of Europe is free from the disease apart from one case in Portugal reported in June 2007.

Clinical signs

The clinical signs for SVD are indistinguishable from Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in pigs.  FMD is caused by a totally different virus which can also affect cloven hoofed animals.  The incubation period of SVD is typically between two and seven days.  A transient fever of up to 41 degrees Centigrade is followed by vesicles (blisters) developing on the coronary band (typically at the junction with the heel).  Signs can vary according to:

  • the age of the pigs affected
  • the conditions under which they are kept
  • the strain of SVD virus involved.

The disease usually appears suddenly but does not spread as quickly as FMD.  Mortality is low but in acute cases there can be some loss of production.  In the initial stages there is fever and a transient loss of appetite. Lameness develops due to the eruption of vesicles at the top of the hooves and between the toes.  Vesicles may also develop on the snout, tongue and lips.  The surface under the vesicles is red and this gradually changes colour as healing develops.  When severe vesication has occurred at the hoof head, the entire hoof may be subsequently shed. 

Recovery is usually complete within two to three weeks.  Younger animals are more severely affected, although mortality due to SVD is rare.

Control and prevention

There are strict controls in place to prevent infected pigs being imported into the UK.  Causes of infection include other recently infected pigs and also potentially from waste food feeding.  Feeding food waste containing animal products to pigs is illegal in the UK. Pig keepers should be vigilant to ensure pigs are not inadvertently given access to waste food containing animal products.

There is no vaccine for SVD. 

Once identified the disease would be dealt with in the same way as FMD, i.e. slaughter of infected herds and thorough cleansing and disinfection.

Notification

This is a Notifiable Disease.  If you suspect that an animal has SVD, you must report it to your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office immediately:

North Wales: 01286 674144 (Night line: 01286 674144)
South Wales: 01267 245400 (Night line: 07000 780144)

Legislation (external links)