CWSHIN Encourages Reporting of Dramatic Birth Defects in Newly Born Piglets

Jun 26, 2023

The Canada West Swine Health Intelligence Network is encouraging pork producers and swine practitioners to report any incidents of dramatic birth defects and to provide pictures.

The Canada West Swine Health Intelligence Network's quarterly swine disease surveillance report for the first quarter of 2023 describes cases of dramatic and disturbing birth defects.

CWSHIN Manager Dr. Jette Christensen says one barn in the region, where they have two-week batch production, reported more than three batches were affected.

Clip-Dr. Jette Christensen-Canada West Swine Health Intelligence Network:

They had quite a high occurrence of very unusual birth defects, missing hooves, head defects with brain popping out on the top of the head, out of the eye sockets, so really dramatic nasty nasty birth defects.

We've looked into it, the practitioner looked into it quite a bit, trying to figure out whether it was a toxic issue.Experts say that defects in this category are usually of infectious nature so the sow would have been infected in the first three months or the first trimester of the pregnancy and that causes these defects.

It's very difficult to figure exactly why and only in one third of such cases, both in humans and in pigs, we are able to find a cause.For this present case, the theory is that maybe parainfluenza had something to do with it but we can not know for sure.This particular barn had Parainfluenza and Atypical pestivirus during the pregnancy of these sows.

So, nobody really knows what it is but we really want to know if there's other cases with these dramatic birth defects out there.Please let us know so we can figure out if there's something going on with an infectious agent but I want to stress again, the cause is unknown.

Dr. Christensen encourages anyone who encounters such birth defects to email her at and if photos can be provided that would be even better.

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