Congenital neurological disease in piglets

Last changed: 12 October 2017

In order to prevent and treat disease, one needs to know the cause. The goal of this project is to find viruses that can cause congenital disease in the central nervous system of piglets.

For a pig farmer, there is usually little time to help and support sick piglets. Because of this, the mortality rate of sick piglets is usually high.

Congenital tremor and splay legs are two neurological diseases seen in newborn piglets - usually individually but sometimes together. The proportion of affected pigs is low, but among the sick, mortality is high, up to 50%.

A pig with splay legs is born with a reduced function in its legs. Congenital tremor appears, just as the name suggests, like shaking in the head and body. None of the diseases are deadly as such, but both make it difficult for the piglet to walk and suckle – wherefore the affected piglets usually die out of starvation or because they are crushed by mistake.

It is almost hundred years since the congenital tremor was first reported - but why only some piglets get sick and what causes the disease is still unknown. For a long time, it has been assumed that both congenital tremor and splay legs are caused by viruses. But so far it has not been possible to know. This project aim to find viruses that can cause these neurological disease in pigs.

This is a Formas-funded project "Neurotropic viruses in pigs: the role in congenital disease" (2016-009792), estimated to run between 2017-2021.

PhD student Hedvig Stenberg

Main supervisor: Maja Malmberg


Maja Malmberg,
Researcher and vice dean, responsible for gender equality and equal opportunities
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, SLU, +46(0)18-67 27 77