Mulberry heart disease

Deficiency of vitamin E or selenium is presented with sudden death in recently weaned piglets.

Alternative names: Vitamin E deficiency, Selenium deficiency


Vitamin E and selenium is present in various feed ingredients like vegetable oils, grains and green plants. Sometimes problems arise when using polyunsaturated fats in the diet as an energy source; that destroys vitamins. Vitamin E and selenium serve as antioxidants and are necessary for the optimal functioning and metabolism of the nervous, muscular, circulatory and immune systems. The recommended levels are 100 IU / kg in the ration of growing pigs and 60 IU / kg in the ration for pigs in finishing stage. These levels are probably higher (could be 50% lower) than those required for maximum growth. When polyunsaturated fatty acids are used in diet, add 3 IU of vitamin E per gram of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Pigs with vitamin E or selenium deficiency are very susceptible to iron intoxication. 



Lactating  piglets, sows, and fattening pigs

  • It is not present.


  • Sudden death.
  • Increased levels of other concurrent diseases.


Causes / Contributing Factors

  • The diet, if it shows high levels of fat.
  • Deficiency of vitamin A.
  • Deficiency of vitamin E and/or selenium.
  • Fast growth can be a factor that also contributes.
  • A high density of animals may predispose.
  • Cereals with much moisture content stored at high temperatures and fungal growth may have low levels of vitamin E.



  • Large amounts of fluid around heart and lungs.
  • Hemorrhagic and pale areas in the heart muscle.
  • Fluid in the abdomen with bits of fibrin.
  • Areas of pale muscle (necrosis) particularly in the lumbar and hind legs muscles, which contain excess fluid.
  • If the liver is affected, it will appear enlarged and mottled, with hemorrhagic areas mixed with pale areas.
  • To have a precise diagnosis you need to carry out a histological examination of  liver and heart.



  • If a population is at risk, all pigs must be injected with vitamin E / selenium or it can be given through water.
  • Vitamin E levels should be increased.