Even the healthiest of animals can get sick from time to time and pigs are no exception. While they are generally rather hearty, pigs should still be observed for signs of illness. Also recommended are inoculations per a regimen designed by a qualified vet based on the plans you have for your pigs, whether they will be pets that never leave home, show animals, or meat animals. Regardless of where you intend to take your pigs or what their intended purpose might be, keeping up with their health is essential and simple observation and knowledge of afflictions can go a long way.
One of the most commonly experienced diseases in pigs is Erysipelas. This disease lives in the tonsils and is spread through bacteria found in saliva and waste and thus is present on most pig farms. It can create chronic arthritis or heart infections and may ultimately cause death. Signs of this disease include elevated temperature and diamond shaped skin lesions. Pigs that survive may also experience stunted growth. Female pigs should be inoculated prior to breeding as should newly purchased pigs.
An unpleasant bacteria present in the environment is E. Coli. This bacteria is usually related to fecal matter contamination and can cause severe diarrhea which leads to dehydration. Sows should be vaccinated against this prior to farrowing.
Another disease acquired through the spread of bacteria is Leptospirosis. This disease spreads easily and quickly mainly via contact with contaminated water or soil and can affect species other than pigs; you yourself are at risk of catching it. Affected sows may spontaneously abort litters. Vaccinating gilts prior to their first breeding will be useful in the fight against Leptospirosis. Sows should also be vaccinated after each new litter is weaned.
A common disease that affects the nasal tissue of a pig is Atrophic Rhinitis. This disease causes inflammation of nasal tissue and damage to the turbinate bones in the nose which can result in atrophy or other deformation. Depending on the severity, this disease may only cause inflammation and may not affect turbinate bones in all cases. However, that is a best case scenario. This is a disease for which sows should be vaccinated prior to farrowing as they will be able to pass on some immunity to piglets through milk but piglets should be vaccinated as well prior to weaning.
A virus that can wreak havoc on pig intestines without any visual signs of its presence is Porcine Parvovirus. This virus can multiply inside of a pig without lending any sign of a problem, but once it is there, it is tough to eliminate as it has a high tolerance for traditional disinfecting measures. It can also survive outside of the body of a pig for a lengthy amount of time. This virus requires vaccination of sows prior to breeding. Otherwise you run the risk of reproductive failure and spontaneous abortion.
The buck doesn't stop here, however, and there are several other pig ailments that could plague your stock. These include Salmonella (causes pneumonia/diarrhea), Actinobacillus Pleuropneumoniae (causes pneumonia, sudden death, and/or delayed growth) and Streptococcus Suis (affects the nervous system and causes stunted growth, chronic arthritis, and heart infection). While vaccinating for these additional diseases is not always practical, keeping a watchful eye on pigs is. Taking note of what is normal for your pigs is the best weapon you can possibly have in your arsenal against illness and disease, so watch for and take note of anything unusual and seek veterinary advice as needed.