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Table 4 Differential diagnosis of the main agents of neonatal diarrhoea (modified from Martelli et al. 2013) [28]

From: Swine enteric colibacillosis: diagnosis, therapy and antimicrobial resistance

Disease/Etiological Agent Age Diarrhoea Gross Lesions Lethality Laboratory diagnostic methods
E.coli (ETEC)
Most commonly from 0 to 4 days Yellowish, grey or slightly pink
alkaline pH
Distension, congestion of small intestine. Stomach full of curdled milk Can reach 70% Culture/isolation.
Typing of isolates usually by PCR
C.perfrigens type C
PA: 1 days
A: 3 days
SA: 7 days
C: 10–14 days
PA: watery yellowish bloody
A: brown bloody
SA: watery grey/yellow
C: yellow/grey
Jejunum and ileum mostly involved.
Haemorrhagic enteritis
Bloody ascitis
100% in PA and A forms Culture/isolation.
Typing/toxin identification.
C.perfrigens type A
Generally diarrhoea is observed within 48 h of birth Mucoid, pink without blood Jejunum and ileum mostly involved
Pasty content
Presence of necrotic membrane
Generally low if not complicated Culture/isolation.
Typing/toxin identification.
Clostridium difficile
In the first week of life Pasty and yellow Mesocolon oedema. Typhlocolitis with focal erosions Variable. Up to 50% Culture/isolation.
Toxin identification
Coronavirus PEDV
All Watery yellow/white/grey
Watery yellow, white, grey, greenish; acid pH
Empty stomach.
Small intestine was thinned and congested
Differs between strains and between naïve and endemic infected herds.
Very high (80–100%) in suckling piglets belonging to naïve infected herds
Viral isolation
Rotaviral enteritis
From 1 to 5 weeks Watery, sometime pasty. Acid pH Small intestine was thinned.
Milk in the stomach
Low (in endemic infected herds)
Viral isolation
Isospora suis
Not before 5 days.
More frequent around 14 days
Yellow and pasty. Alkaline pH Small intestine. Enteritis with fibrino-necrotic membrane Very low or not observed Microscopic evaluation after flotation
  1. PA per-acute, A acute, SA sub-acute, C chronic