What’s Wrong With My Pigs? Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can be caused by a variety of reasons. Here we describe some of the risk factors related to it and some useful tips for the differential diagnosis of this pathology.

Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of conjunctiva, a thin and delicate membrane that covers the eyeball and lines the eyelid. Conjunctivitis is an extremely common eye problem because the conjunctiva is continually exposed to microorganisms. Also, environmental agents can cause infections or allergic reactions.

The clinical signs can be seen in one or both eyes and, if caused by infection, can be very easily transmitted to other animals due to close physical contact. Conjunctivitis outbreaks may be associated with Chlamydia infection or other diseases such as influenza, Aujeszky’s diseases and Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), among others. However, clinical and laboratory results are necessary to obtain the correct diagnosis.

Disinfection with most common detergents and disinfectants will inactivate Chlamydiaceae. Current infections are being treated with antibiotics. Generally, tetracyclines are the first antibiotics of choice to control it. In case Chlamydia suis is resistant to those, quinolones (enrofloxacin) or macrolides (erythromycin) could be the second choice. Facilities with poor ventilation and poor environmental hygiene can also cause conjunctivitis. Improvement in environmental conditions is the key to solve the problem.

The presence of some mycotoxins, especially trichothecenes, are sometimes related to this problem. From this group, the most frequently observed are deoxynivalenol (DON) and T-2. In addition to the signs of conjunctivitis, intoxicated animals with trichothecenes will show other symptoms like vomiting, decrease in feed intake, reduced weight gain, weight uniformity in lots and high incidence of diarrhoea. The use of strategies for inactivation of mycotoxins, especially from the trichothecenes group, is important to control the situation.

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