Disease and Health

Disease control and biosecurity are paramount in swine production. Understanding the interplay between disease and biosecurity is essential to ensure the well-being of swine herds and the economic success of the industry.

But first, the basics: What is disease? 
Disease is a deviation or a disruption from the normal functioning of an organism, typically characterized by specific signs and symptoms. In the context of swine production, disease is any health condition that negatively impacts the well-being and productivity of swine herds.

Another important concept is infection. Infection is the invasion and multiplication of microorganisms in body tissues, and it does not always cause illness. A disease, on the other hand, can occur as a consequence of an infection, but can also be due to other factors.

In commercial swine herds, non-infectious diseases are very well controlled, but infections are a constant cause of concern. Infectious diseases can be caused by parasites, fungi, protozoa, bacteria and viruses, but in the current context of the commercial swine production, diseases caused by viruses and bacteria are the most common and the most difficult to deal with, especially because in many situations they can be silent, i.e., those pathogens are able to infect, and the pigs might not have clinical signs (subclinical infection).

The most efficient way to avoid the occurrence of an infectious disease in a swine herd is by the implementation of a biosecurity plan.
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, biosecurity is "a set of management and physical measures designed to reduce the risk of introduction, establishment and spread of animal diseases, infections or infestations to, from and within an animal population”.

Some examples of biosecurity measures are: 

  • Shower in/shower out
  • Visitor logbook
  • Truck washing and disinfection
  • Control of rodents
  • Avoiding the contact of pigs with birds and other wild species
  • Creation of lines of separation 
  • Use of designated boots/clothes or disposable coveralls and booties


By Dr. Talita Resende, November/2023
Reviewed on February/2024