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Aujeszky’s disease

Aujeszky’s disease or pseudorabies is a disease primarily of pigs which can be passed on to other species.

Aujeszky's disease is also known as pseudorabies. The first case of Aujeszky's disease in Great Britain occurred in 1979. The last confirmed case was in 1989. GB was declared officially free of this disease in 1991.

The disease is not as contagious as Swine Vesicular Disease and is generally spread slowly from pig to pig. However, the consequences of an outbreak of the disease occurring and spreading in GB are potentially serious.

Signs of the disease

Pigs are the only natural host for the Aujeszky's virus, although it can infect cattle, sheep, cats, dogs and rats causing fatal disease.

Clinical signs of the disease in pigs vary depending on the age of the pigs involved. The incubation period in new born pigs is 2-4 days and signs of shivering, loss of co-ordination and hind leg weakness are seen. Losses may reach 100% in piglets less than 7 days old.

In weaned pigs, respiratory disease is the predominant problem. Sneezing, coughing and labored breathing is accompanied by fever and weight loss. Signs in gilts and sows include abortion, stillbirth, and mummified foetuses in addition to the respiratory signs and fever seen in growing and finishing pigs.

Mortality rates tend to decrease as the age of the affected pigs rises. Clinical signs can be present for 6-10 days. In uncomplicated cases the animals often recover.

Diagnosis is usually made using a combination of herd history, clinical signs, virus isolation, fluorescent antibody testing and serology (the study of serums). There is no specific treatment for acute infection.

Aujeszky’s disease is a notifiable disease. If you suspect one of your animals has Aujeszky’s disease, it is vital to report it as early as possible. Contact your nearest Animal and Plant Health Agency office immediately.

Legislation

The following legislation has been implemented in order to reduce the risk of introducing or spreading the disease: