Date Full Report Received


Date Abstract Report Received



Primary Investigator:

Neonatal piglet diarrhea is associated with increased pre-weaning mortality, poor growth rates, and variation in piglet weight at weaning. Within the last decade, neonatal diarrhea has been increasingly associated with the presence of Clostridium perfringens type A and/or Clostridium difficile. Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CdAD) is manifested as mild to severe colitis in humans, horses, piglets as well as other animal species. Many risk factors are thought to contribute to CdAD in piglets, including administration of antimicrobials at processing, piglet age, or overall hygiene in farrowing crates (environmental load; dose). However, this anecdotal data has not been investigated. The objectives of this research was to: 1) evaluate the consistency and severity of disease lesions in piglets challenged at different bacterial doses, to (2) evaluate the use of antimicrobials as a contributing risk factor in the development of disease, to (3) provide a clinical and histological evaluation of C. difficile infection in 10-day-old piglets, and (4) try to develop and validate an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test using commercially available antibodies specific for toxin A and toxin B of Clostridium difficile to determine if one or both toxins are associated with lesions. 

Three separate pig experiments were conducted to answer the study objectives.  Neonatal pigs were snatch-farrowed from a commercial sow farm and received 10 ml of pooled colostrum from the farm of origin via gastric lavage. Piglets were then transported to Iowa State University and individual housed for experimental Clostridium difficile inoculation. Three days post-challenge, pigs with euthanized for sample collection. Combined results of the three animal studies indicate that Clostridium difficile dosage appears to be an important factor that influences the appearance and severity of lesions, 10 day-old pigs can develop disease associated with Clostridium difficile, and antibiotic administration following inoculation did not significant increase disease or lesion severity. This data suggests that good sanitation may reduce CdAD in young, older piglets can be affected by the bacteria and antimicrobial therapy at processing does not increase disease severity.

Contact information
Darin Madson
Iowa State University, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
1600 South 16th
Ames, IA 50011