Association between water sulfate and diarrhea in swine on Ohio farms

M. Fleck Veenhuizen From the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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 DVM, MS

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Summary:

Water samples and survey information related to prevalence of diarrhea, pathogens isolated, history of water quality problems, source of water, geographic location, land use, and water use were obtained from 54 swine farms in Ohio. Water was analyzed for concentration of sulfates and total dissolved solids by use of ion chromatography and electrical conductivity techniques. Sulfate concentrations in drinking water for swine ranged from 5.99 to 1,629 mg/L, with a mean of 231.78 mg/L and a median of 85.39 mg/L. Mean concentration of total dissolved solids was 632.2 mg/L, with a median of 581 mg/L and a range of 175 to 2,058 mg/L. Concentrations of water sulfate and total dissolved solids were highly correlated (P = 0.001). Sulfate concentrations were correlated with geographic location. Higher concentrations were found in the northern and western regions of Ohio. Associations between sulfate concentrations and prevalence of diarrhea, pathogens isolated, or source of water could not be established, but water sulfate concentrations significantly (P = 0.0002) increased with depth of the well. Water sulfate concentration could be approximated when geographic location, depth of well, and concentration of total dissolved solids were known. Sixty-nine percent (37/54) of the participating farms in the study had not had any laboratory-confirmed reports of diarrhea in swine in the preceding 2 years. Of those reporting diarrhea, most signs of disease were detected in pigs < 2 weeks old or in young pigs within 2 weeks of entry into the nursery.

Summary:

Water samples and survey information related to prevalence of diarrhea, pathogens isolated, history of water quality problems, source of water, geographic location, land use, and water use were obtained from 54 swine farms in Ohio. Water was analyzed for concentration of sulfates and total dissolved solids by use of ion chromatography and electrical conductivity techniques. Sulfate concentrations in drinking water for swine ranged from 5.99 to 1,629 mg/L, with a mean of 231.78 mg/L and a median of 85.39 mg/L. Mean concentration of total dissolved solids was 632.2 mg/L, with a median of 581 mg/L and a range of 175 to 2,058 mg/L. Concentrations of water sulfate and total dissolved solids were highly correlated (P = 0.001). Sulfate concentrations were correlated with geographic location. Higher concentrations were found in the northern and western regions of Ohio. Associations between sulfate concentrations and prevalence of diarrhea, pathogens isolated, or source of water could not be established, but water sulfate concentrations significantly (P = 0.0002) increased with depth of the well. Water sulfate concentration could be approximated when geographic location, depth of well, and concentration of total dissolved solids were known. Sixty-nine percent (37/54) of the participating farms in the study had not had any laboratory-confirmed reports of diarrhea in swine in the preceding 2 years. Of those reporting diarrhea, most signs of disease were detected in pigs < 2 weeks old or in young pigs within 2 weeks of entry into the nursery.

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