Swine vesicular disease: how to spot and report the disease

Advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of this infectious disease.    

This document is part of a collection

Swine vesicular disease (SVD) is a contagious disease of pigs.

It is thought to have evolved from human virus in the 1960s, producing a virus that affects only pigs and causes disease signs that can be identical to foot and mouth disease. SVD, though a much less severe, is often impossible to distinguish clinically.

It doesn't affect humans.


Latest situation: Scotland is free from swine vesicular disease.

Clinical signs

The disease is characterised by vesicles on the legs and around the mouth of affected pigs, hence the possible confusion with foot and mouth disease.

The pigs may be lame while the vesicles appear and subsequently rupture. Less commonly, they may also be feverish and reluctant to eat. The clinical signs vary with the strain of the virus (there is one serotype containing several distinct strains): the disease can be severe, mild or subclincal (shows no clinical signs but is infected and will still be infectious to others).

Younger animals tend to show more severe clinical signs than older pigs, and animals housed on wet concrete are usually worse affected than those on straw or grass (abrasion from hard floors bursts the vesicles and promotes secondary infection).

Severe disease is unusual, outbreaks more often feature disease with mild clinical signs. Generally, the illness is short-lived and most pigs make a full recovery in two to three weeks. It is unusual for pigs to die of swine vesicular disease.

If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence. 

How swine vesiucular disease is spread

SVD is spread by the movement of infected live pigs. Other routes for transmission include:

  • contaminated footwear, clothes or hands of people who have close contact with infected animals, e.g. when feeding or examining them
  • equipment that becomes contaminated through use on or near infected animals
  • any vehicle that enters or leaves premises especially those areas where susceptible animals are kept
  • contamination from the carcass of an infected animal
  • contamination from any place where an infected animal has been; from pastures, loading ramps, markets, roads, etc.
  • contamination from other animals such as dogs, cats, and foxes, which can carry infected material on their feet or coats, but do not become infected themselves
  • contamination through contact with infected animals from neighbouring farms where adequate separation distances are not in place
  • animals eating infected animal products

Human health implications

There are no human health implications, although there have been some isolated cases of accidental infection of laboratory personnel working with the virus.

Disease control

The swine vesicular disease (SVD) control strategy measures sets out the disease control measures we would consider if SVD was suspected or confirmed in pigs.

If the disease is confirmed the outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases.


Biosecurity is about being aware of the ways disease can spread and taking every practical measure to minimise the risk of disease spreading. The advice details practical things you can do on your farm to help prevent the introduction and spread of SVD to and from your animals.


If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence.

Back to top