Merck Manual

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Oesophagostomum spp in Pigs


Lora R. Ballweber

, MS, DVM, DACVM (Parasitology), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University

Last full review/revision May 2015 | Content last modified May 2015

Oesophagostomum spp are prevalent worldwide; O dentatum is the most common species, whereas O quadrispinulatum appears to be slightly more pathogenic. The adults are found in the lumen of the large intestine; they are 8–15 mm long, slender, and white or gray. The life cycle is direct. Eggs are passed in the feces; infective L3 are found on pasture within 1 wk and can survive for ~1 yr under optimal conditions. Infection results from ingestion of L3, which penetrate the mucosa of the large intestine within a few hours after ingestion and return to the lumen in 6–20 days. The prepatent period is ~3-6 wk. A periparturient rise in worm egg output has been observed in sows from 2 wk before parturition to weaning; however, this phenomenon is far less constant in pigs than sheep and its epidemiologic importance is questionable. Most infections are asymptomatic, but heavily infected pigs may show anorexia, emaciation, and GI disturbances.

The serosa shows small nodules, their size reflecting species and previous exposure. In severe cases, the intestinal wall may be thickened and necrotic. Heavy infections may reduce the lactation capacity of sows and the body weight of growing pigs. Infection induces only moderate immunity; hence, prevalence of nodular worms tends to be higher in the older age groups (sows, boars). In patent infections, typical strongyle eggs (66–80 × 38–47 μm) are found in feces, often in large numbers. These can be differentiated from those of Hyostrongylus by larval culture. At necropsy, the worms and lesions are readily visible. The benzimidazoles, levamisole, piperazines, dichlorvos, pyrantel tartrate, and ivermectin are effective, but anthelmintic resistance has been observed for benzimidazoles, levamisole, and pyrantel. A diet composed of highly degradable carbohydrates may support worm control by creating unfavorable conditions, which decrease worm establishment and fecundity.

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