In this month column of the National Hog Farmer, Dr. Albert Rovira from the University of Minnesota is reviewing the cases of intoxication due to ionophores, these antibiotics given through the feed to control bacterial and coccidial infections in swine.Clinical signs are non-specific. Indeed, pigs become weak and stop eating but do not have a fever. In more severe cases, neurological signs can be noted. However, histological lesions are striking with a dramatic change of the muscle structure as is shown in Figure 1 below.
There are three main causes of ionophore intoxication in swine:
- Dosage error in the diet: the optimal concentration is very small, between 15 and 30 parts per milliom.
- Mixing ionophore and tiamulin: Tiamulin prevents the ionophore from being excreted by the body, leading to toxic blood levels.
- Inclusion of ionophores designed for another species. Usually, the levels are incorporated at a concentration higher than the toxic level.
In conclusion although cases of ionophore intoxication are rare in swine, it may become more prevalent starting in 2017, with the approval of the only swine ionophore as a growth promotant.