Rotavirus infection

Rotavirus infections are presented clinically as a diarrhea in lactating piglets or in the first 2 weeks after weaning

Alternative names: Rotavirus, rotavirosis


The virus is widely extended through all the swine populations of the world. Four different serotypes (A, B, C and D) affect pigs. Usually, diagnoses focus only in rotavirus serotype A (due to the difficulty to culture the rest of the serotypes). However, currently, there is a PCR test available that can classify all the serotypes. Infections in which 2 serotypes are involved are frequent. Rotavirus is present in most of the farms with almost a 100% seroconversion in the adult population. Another epidemiological feature is its persistence outside the pig, where it is resistant to environmental changes and to several disinfectants. Exposition to the virus does not necessarily mean disease. It is estimated that only 10 to 15% of diarrheas in pigs start with a primary rotavirus infection. 




  • Transient or subclinical diarrhea.

Lactating piglets

  • Severe watery diarrhea in young animals.
  • Villi atrophy is a frequent characteristic together with dehydration and malabsorption.
  • Diarrhea can persist 3 to 4 days.
  • Pigs appear to have sunken abdomen.
  • Sunken eyes due to dehydration.
  • The skin surrounding the anus is wet.

Weaners and growers

  • Variable diarrhea. The disease becomes less important as pigs grow older. However, if pathogenic strains of E. coli are present, a severe disease with mortality can present.
  • Dehydration.
  • Diarrhea persists 3 to 4 days.
  • Sunken eyes due to dehydration.


Causes / Contributing Factors

  • Bad hygiene of pens.
  • Continuous use of pens. It is recommended to adopt an all-in/all-out system.
  • Pigs movement.
  • Temperature fluctuations.
  • Contaminated boots  and clothes. 



In any diarrhea problems in pigs 10 to 14 days old, it is necessary to make sure rotavirus is the main cause through histological changes and PCR. Soak a pH indicator strip in a diarrhea sample; if the strips turns blue it is a diarrhea caused by E. coli, if the strip turns red it is a viral infection.



  • There is no specific treatment.
  • Supply antibiotics injected, orally or in the drinking water to control secondary infections such as E. coli.
  • Administrate dextrose/ glycine (electrolytes) to avoid dehydration.
  • Supply dry, warm and comfortable resting areas.
  • Vaccinating gestating sows 5 to 3 weeks before farrowing can be helpful.
  • Sow’s vaccination is recommended to control diarrhea caused by E. coliClostidium, transmissible gastroenteritis or porcine epidemic diarrhea. 

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