How do swine practitioners and veterinary pathologists arrive at a diagnosis of Clostridium perfringens type A enteritis in neonatal piglets?
A questionnaire was administered to 22 veterinary practitioners and 17 veterinary pathologists to investigate the methods used for diagnosis of Clostridium perfringens type A enteritis in neonatal pigs. Practitioners generally diagnosed C. perfringens type A associated enteritis by age of onset of diarrhea (between 1 to 7 days of age). Most practitioners (95%) were moderately to very confident in their diagnosis. Pathologists generally diagnosed C. perfringens type A associated enteritis by combinations of isolation of the organism, genotyping or detecting the toxins of the organism, and ruling out other pathogens through histopathology. Almost half (41%) of the pathologists were not confident of their diagnosis. This study reports that the current diagnostic method for C. perfringens type A enteritis is not specific, and although many pathologists expressed reservations about making a diagnosis of C. perfringens type A enteritis, most practitioners were confident in their diagnosis, even though reported clinical signs of clostridial diarrhea are similar to those of a number of other enteric diseases.