Clostridium perfringens

Diseases caused by Clostridium perfringens appear as a chronic or acute enteritis in piglets.

Alternative names: Clostridial diseases, Clostridium perfringens type A, Clostridium perfringens type C, necrotic enteritis


Diseases caused by Clostridium perfringens appear as a chronic or acute enteritis in piglets.

Clostridia are gram positive bacteria of a great size, which produce spores. It is present in the intestine of all pigs. They multiply at a great speed and produce toxins which quickly kill the host. The disease caused by C. perfringens type A is milder, less dramatic and lasts longer, but it can be similar to the disease caused by C. perfringens type C.

The species of C. perfringens, types A or C can, under certain conditions, produce severe diarrhea with high mortality in piglets. Type C is by far the most important. If it enters the small intestine and gets established in it before the piglets consume colostrum, they can get the disease. Piglets usually get infected before 7 days of age, mainly during the first 24-72 hours. Type C can become a chronic disease in piglets from 2 to 6 week old.


Sows, weaners and growers

  • None.

Lactating piglets

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Diarrhea in piglets 0 to 21 days old.
  • Necrosis in the small intestine mucosa; the mucosa is shedded and it can also be observed in the diarrhea.
  • In chronic cases, the small intestine mucosa can be thickened.
  • Many piglets die.
  • Air bubbles in small intestine.
  • Anorexia /lweight.loss


Causes / Contributing Factors

  • High number of bacteria in the environment, especially sow's faeces.
  • Unknown factors.


In acute cases, the diagnosis can be made using the clinical symptoms and the post mortem lesions. It is necessary to send to the lab a live piglet (preferably) or recently death (euthanized) due to the fact that there are several organisms which multiply after death which cause quick post-mortem changes.
To confirm the diagnosis the bacteria must be isolated, or PCR can be used.




  • Clostridium is very sensitive to penicillin.
  • Penicillin, bacitracin methylene disalycilate can be administered in the feed during 3 to 4 weeks to control acute outbreaks while a vaccination plan is established.
  • Vaccinate sows 3 and 5 weeks before farrowing.


  • In acute outbreaks it can be useful to administer antiserum to the piglets when they are born.
  • Administer oral antibiotics particularly amoxicylin, at birth and repeat at days 2 or 3 of age.
  • Sow’s feed can be medicated with penicillin or bacitracin methylene disalycilate, or it can be added to the premix at a daily basis during 14 days before farrowing and during lactation.