Vaccinations

Vaccinating the pet pig

Recommended Vaccinations:

  • Regional Differences: geography plays an important role in disease prevention.  Certain areas have some disease, some areas do not.  Always check with your local veterinarian and your local animal control to find out what vaccinations are recommended or required in your area
  • Erysipelas
  • Tetanus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae
  • Rabies

Erysipelas

  • Erysipelas is a painful, sometimes fatal disease, which causes high fever and disrupts blood vessel function, causing internal bleeding and bruising of the skin. The bruises on the skin can form a distinct diamond pattern and so a common name for this condition is diamond skin disease.
  • Erysipelas is carried by birds and lives for a long time in the soil. If you have a pig, it WILL be exposed to Erysipelas.
  • Pigs should be vaccinated with Erysipelas at 8 weeks, with a booster in 2 weeks. Then once a year.

Tetanus

  • Tetanus is a bacteria that lives in soil. It is especially plentiful in areas that have been used for horses. Pigs are quite resistant to tetanus, but if they do get the disease, they do not respond well to treatment, and most die.
  • Pigs can contract tetanus when they get a small wound on their snout or legs while rooting or rolling in the dirt. The dirt, with bacteria, get into the wound and infection can begin.
  • Pigs should be vaccinated for tetanus at 8 weeks, with a booster in 2 weeks. Then every 6 months.

Leptospirosis

  • Leptospirosis is caused by a number of related bacteria, which we call serotypes. We commonly vaccinate for the most common and dangerousl of the serotypes, but not for all of them. There is no vaccine that covers all serotypes of leptospirosis.  The vaccine probably gives partial immunity to all serotypes.
  • Leptospirosis is carried by wildlife and deposited into the water around our pigs (lakes, streams, puddles). If you have raccoons, you have leptospirosis in your environment.
  • Leptospirosis is contagious to humans – it is carried in the urine and can cause serious injury in the human. Simple cleanliness (washing hands after handling urine) will prevent transmission, but children can be at risk.
  • Pigs should be vaccinated for letprospirosis at 8 weeks, with a booster in 2 weeks. Then yearly.

Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae

  • This vaccine is often included in a combination vaccine that is given to pet pigs.
  • Actinobacillus pleuropneumoiae causes severe, often fatal respiratory disease in baby pigs and can cause permanent lung damage if they survive. It is common in commercial piggeries and farm situations, but is not an issue for the pet pig.
  • All breeding pigs should be vaccinated for this disease so that their babies will have immunity and to prevent outbreaks.
  • It is often impossible to find combination vaccines that do not include actinobacillus, so it is often given.

Rabies

  • There is no licensed vaccine for rabies in the pig. Most veterinarians use the dog or horse vaccine for pigs.  Studies have shown that most pigs develop protective antibodies after vaccination with the dog or horse rabies vaccine.
  • This is an economic issue in many ways – the pet pig population is not large enough to support the cost for a drug company to test and develop a proven rabies vaccine for the pet pig.
  • Commercial swine are not vaccinated for rabies. They are generally not exposed because of the method of farming and most commercial pigs are slaughtered before rabies would become a problem.
  • Your veterinarian may or may not recommend a rabies vaccine for your pig.
  • If your pig bites someone, then animal control or other authorities may become involved. In many areas, doctors are required to report animal bites to the health department.   Your pig may be quarantined, either in your home, or at the animal control facility.  Quarantine can be from 10 to 60 days.  Your pig may be seized and tested for rabies.  The test for rabies causes the death of the animal.
  • If your pig has been vaccinated for rabies, it is much more likely that you will be able to quarantine your pig in your home rather than having it seized.
  • If you choose to vaccinate your pig for rabies, it should be vaccinated at 4 months of age, with a booster in 1 year. Then every 3 years.

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