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Proliferative and hemorrhagic enteropathy (ileitis)

Proliferative and hemorrhagic enteritis in swine is a common diarrhea in growing-finishing pigs, characterized by inflammation of the small intestine. It is often mild and contained, but sometimes leads to persistent diarrhea, severe necrotic enteritis or hemorrhagic enteritis with high mortality.1

Proliferative and hemorrhagic enteritis in swine is caused by the bacteria Lawsonia intracellularis, and can be acute (proliferative hemorrhagic enteritis), chronic (porcine intestinal adnomatosis) or subclinical. The acute form of proliferative hemorrhagic enteropathy is most often observed in growing-finishing pigs (> 70kg in weight) and can lead to acute mortality with no prior clinical signs.1

Clinical Signs +

For the acute form (hemorrhagic enteritis), reddish or even tar-like feces may be observed before death occurs. When the disease progresses more slowly, pigs first become anaemic and anorexic, then less mobile. The appearance of feces can vary considerably: profuse, more or less watery, tar-like, bright red or bloody. Mortality can occur in 48 hours. Some animals recover completely, but in general, lasting growth retardation is noted. Mortality can occur in up to 50% of affected animals. In the chronic form (porcine intestinal adenomatosis), signs may appear in pigs from the age of 7 weeks old, and include chronic diarrhea, pale skin and, as with subclinical enteropathy, a lack of uniform growth. However, as a rule, clinical signs are atypical. Lawsonia intracellularis is present in most farms and can cause significant economic losses.1

Treatment +

For hemorrhagic enteritis, antibiotics are administered parenterally in seriously affected pigs, and in food or drinking water for the rest of the group to help reduce the severity of irreversible chronic necrotic enteritis and prevent its development.

The chronic form is generally well controlled by using a medicated feed.

Prevention +

The bacteria's strong ability to survive in manure (2 to 3 weeks) and its prolonged excretion by infected animals requires a strict application of classic hygiene measures at the farm (disinfect pigsty and material used, all-in/all-out) in order to stop the disease and reduce economic losses. The use of medication in meal prevents the appearance of the disease. A live attenuated vaccine also exists, to be administered in drinking water.

Consult your veterinary doctor before administering antibiotics and vaccines to animals. Your veterinary doctor is the best source to consult to obtain recommendations that are truly suited to your farm.1,2


1 Merck Veterinary Manual, Third Edition, p. 250-251

2 Maladies d’élevage des porcs [Pig farming diseases], 2nd edition, Guy Pierre Martineau