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taking care of a sick piglet (Ankers; FAO)

Pigs and Animal Health

Achievements in pig production always go hand-in-hand with improved animal health. Even though there have been major achievements in disease control and prevention, the pig production sector continues to be threatened by emerging trans-boundary diseases. A good deal of work has been done to minimize the impacts of viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases, and more will be needed in the future. These impacts include the clinical effects on animals and the effects on consumers and the public in terms of health and wellbeing.

The various systems of pig production in today’s world experience diverse patterns of disease. Where pigs are kept in small-scale holdings, there is often little investment in animal health; efficient disease control is hard to achieve, and preventable diseases threaten the livelihoods of subsistence-level producers. In large-scale industrialized holdings, these diseases can be controlled through improved bio-security and prevention measures – but greater animal densities increase the risk of other diseases and syndromes. In some situations, intensive pig production may be a driver in the emergence of disease by facilitating increased virulence.

Control of swine diseases has been dominated by private-sector initiatives, and much of the research focuses on diseases affecting the commercial sector. But less has been done to reduce the burden of poverty-related diseases such as cysticercosis or African swine fever, despite their relevance for food security and the public health sector. There is a need for more joint public and private investments in pig health that are balanced and that take all stakeholders into account.