Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile disease is characterized by diarrhea in piglets of a few hours.

Alternative names: Clostridial diseases


Clostridium difficile disease is characterized by diarrhea in piglets of a few hours.

Clostridium is a Gram positive of large size that produces spores. It is present in the intestine of all pigs. It multiplies very rapidly and it produces toxins that cause diarrhea. The course of the disease is very short: piglets normally get infected during first hours postpartum, so it sometimes seems they were born with diarrhea.

In humans the disease produces high mortality. It is present in hospital patients who are under antibiotic treatment causing a disruption of the intestinal bacterial flora. This produces a toxic megacolon that does not respond to antibiotic treatment. It is important to note that the disease in humans is not related to swine.



Sows, nursery and fattening

  • None.

Lactating piglets

  • Diarrhea with or without blood.
  • Diarrhea during their first day of life and up to the 7th day.
  • Colon edema.
  • Some piglets die.


Causes / Contributing Factors

  • A high number of bacteria in the environment.
  • Unknown factors.
  • Changes in the intestinal microbiota.
  • Although the disease is present in humans hospitalized under antibiotic treatment, the use of antibiotics in pigs does not appear to contribute significantly to the clinical condition, especially in piglets under 2 days.



In acute cases it can be diagnosed based on clinical signs and post-mortem lesions. it is needed to send to the laboratory a live pig (preferably) or recently dead (euthanasia) because microorganisms multiply after death and cause rapid post-mortem changes. To confirm the diagnosis the bacteria must be isolated, perform PCR, or identify toxins A or B in the intestine.




  • Antibiotics should be administered orally in particular amoxicillin at birth and again on day 2 or 3.
  • Sow feed may be medicated with penicillin or bacitracin methylene disalicylate or you can top dress the medication daily in feed for 14 days before farrow and during lactation.