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Factors Associated with Occurrence and Level of Isospora suis Oocyst Excretion

25 December 2012

Application of early routine treatment with toltrazuril reduced both the odds and the level of Isospora suis oocyst excretion in nursing piglets in farrow-to-finish herds in Greece, according to new research. Good biosecurity and hygiene also reduced the odds of oocyst excretion.

Piglet isosporosis is one of the most common parasitic diseases in modern pig production, according to Vasilis Skampardonis of the University of Thessaly in Greece and co-authors there and at National Agricultural Research Foundation in Thermi.

In a study reported in BMC Veterinary Research, they continue that to prevent clinical disease, prophylactic treatment of piglets with toltrazuril (Baycox® 5%, Bayer HealthCare, Animal Health, Monheim, Germany) is widely practised in the past 20 years. There are only a very few reports documenting the likely effects of managerial practices, such as hygiene measures, all-in-all-out management of farrowing facilities and piglet manipulations, and/or farm-specific environment - i.e. design and materials of the farrowing pen and room - on the risk of disease occurrence and transmission.

In this cross-sectional study, the scientists identified litter- and herd-level factors associated with the odds and the level of Isospora suis oocyst excretion in nursing piglets of Greek farrow-to-finish pig herds. Faecal samples were collected from 314 litters of 55 randomly selected herds. Oocyst counts were determined by a modified McMaster technique and possible risk-factor data were collected through a questionnaire. In the analysis, a two-part model was employed, which simultaneously assessed the odds and the level of oocyst excretion.

Factors associated with lower odds of oocyst excretion were: use of toltrazuril treatment; all-in all-out management of the farrowing rooms; no cross-fostering or fostering during the first 24 hours after farrowing; plastic flooring in the farrowing pens; farrowing rooms with more than 14 farrowing pens and employment of more than two caretakers in the farrowing section. Factors associated with lower oocyst excretion level were: use of toltrazuril treatment and caretakers who avoided entering the farrowing pens.

Apart from prophylactic treatment with toltrazuril, the risk and the level of I.suis oocyst excretion from piglets in their second week of life, was associated with managerial and environmental factors, concluded Skampardonis and co-authors. Changes in these factors, which may enhance prevention of piglet isosporosis – either alternatively or supplementary to medical control – are of increasing importance because of the likely development of resistant parasites under the currently widespread use of anticoccidial compounds.


Skampardonis V., S. Sotiraki, P. Kostoulas and Leonidas Leontides. 2012. Factors associated with the occurrence and level of Isospora suis oocyst excretion in nursing piglets of Greek farrow-to-finish herds. BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:228. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-228

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

Find out more information on Isospora suis by clicking here.

December 2012

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