The Importance of Quarantine Practices
By: Stacey Davenport of Pig Pen Hill Mini Pigs
When introducing new pigs to your home, your breeding program or even taking in rescues, preventative measures should always be taken. By introducing new pigs immediately into general population the spread of disease and parasite becomes very high, putting otherwise healthy pigs at risk. New pigs should always be quarantined to allow time for observation of overall health, signs of disease and parasites, behavior issues, as well as any recommended medical procedures if necessary. However, if you have acquired a re-home situation and were provided proof of the pig being under veterinary care and current on vaccines and parasite preventatives, quarantine measures may not be needed.
How are diseases spread from pig to pig?
There are many ways for disease to spread from pig to pig, even if they are not sharing the same quarters and housing facilities. Direct contact is the number one way to spread from pig to pig. As pigs are herd animals by nature they often touch in everyday activities such as fighting, eating, sleeping, and touching noses. The second most common transmission is contact with the disease organism on materials such as clothes, tools, shoes, as well as contaminated hands and skin. As most disease organisms can survive in some materials and even the soil for years (in some cases), failure to change clothes, clean footwear, and practice proper hygiene, this is a common way of disease transmission.
Insects, rodents, and birds can also play a factor in the spread of disease. Although they do not become infected with the disease itself, they can however carry fecal material and contaminated soil on their feet and bodies between close areas, acting as a source of the disease. When contaminated with feces, urine, nasal discharge, or even pus from a sick animal, water, food, soil, as well as wind can easily transmit illnesses to other pigs.
How should a quarantine area be set up? What should it include?
A proper quarantine area should consist of a shelter and containment area separate from all other pigs. As there is no standard or ideal amount of space required, areas should contain adequate space to house a pig comfortably, without reducing its quality of life. Space should allow for a sleeping area, potty area, feeding area, as well as space for the pig to move around freely.
It is recommended that your area for confinement should be at least 10 feet between any areas occupied by other pigs. A closed building is ideal as it prevents waste disposal from draining into other occupied areas. If a closed shelter is not available, as to protect other pigs from any possible parasites, disease, or behavior risks your quarantine area should not include any common areas where other pigs and quarantined pigs share fencing, food or water sources. Open fencing allowing contact, wind-blown materials, food stuffs, and waste draining into other resident areas should be avoided. Quarantine areas that are not in use should never be used for resident pigs, and should be used for quarantine purposes only.
A separate set of tools such as rakes, bowels, troughs, shovels, feed, and water should be used strictly for your quarantine areas and never used for general population areas or other resident pigs. Quarantine areas should be made with easy to clean surfaces and contain a solid floor. Materials such as wood should be properly sealed to prevent absorption and painted with an easy to clean coating. Ideal flooring materials include concrete, tile, and linoleum as they are not porous and easily cleaned. Dirt is not recommended as some diseases can survive for long periods of time and it is not a material easily disinfected. Bedding materials such as straw, hay, and blankets should be used sparingly as they are easily contaminated, difficult to disinfect, and can transfer disease.
How do I keep the quarantine area clean?
Your quarantine area should be as clean as possible at all times. Daily cleaning routines should be used when the area is in use and after each quarantine case. Disinfectants should always be used for cleaning. Bleach is a cheap and readily available option that will kill most viruses and bacteria. Walls and floors should be cleaned on a regular basis. Food bowls and tools should be disinfected after each use. Waste materials including urine, feces, and drainage should be removed daily and disposed in an area that is not accessible to any other pigs. Proper hygiene should be practiced, clothing and footwear should also be washed and sanitized after contact with secluded pigs and quarantine areas to prevent cross contamination. It is recommended that you do not allow visitors to have access into your quarantine areas or handle any pigs in confinement.
How long should a pig be in quarantine?
Cathy Zolicani DVM, suggests that newly obtained pigs be quarantined for at least 14 days as most infectious disease will cause symptoms to develop within 7-10 days. However, if the pig has any non-infectious problems such as nutritional deficiencies, recent surgeries or procedures, quarantine should be used for as long as needed so that the affected pig will not be damaged by other resident pigs and as long as it takes to treat, feed a special diet, wash and treat wounds, etc. If a pig is sick upon arrival, quarantine should be continued for 1 week after the last symptom resolves.