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Worm Challenge in Pigs Can Now Be Identified During Production

05 November 2014

MSD Animal Health - Pigs

UK - An innovative test that can detect large round worm infestations in all ages of pigs is now available to the British pig industry through MSD Animal Health (known as Merck Animal Health in the United States and Canada).

he Serasca ELISA is a serological (blood) test that can identify the presence of Ascaris suum, the most prevalent intestinal worm that occurs in pigs. Validated by the University of Ghent, it is available to producers through their veterinary surgeons and expands MSD Animal Health’s pig health diagnostics service in the UK. It is offered as an individual diagnostic tool or alongside the company’s well-supported PRRS Vetcheck and Respicheck herd screening programmes.

This test is more robust than monitoring faecal egg counts and/or the assessment of livers for milk spots at slaughter. It can pick up parasite activity early on in the lifecycle. It is sensitive and can establish the level of worm burden in a batch of pigs and is also highly accurate with minimal possibilities for ‘false negatives‘, as can happen with faecal monitoring if samples are collected during a period of low egg shedding.

Blood samples are taken and analysed for the presence of specific antibodies against
A suum haemoglobin (AsHb), which indicate parasite activity. These results are evaluated and then collated to establish the scale of infection existing in the pigs. This information can then be used to estimate the potential risk the worm burden might be presenting to overall herd health and productivity.

Pig vet, Ricardo Neto MRCVS, Technical Manager with MSD Animal Health’s Pig Team, said: “Intestinal parasites can pull down growth rate and reduce feed efficiency. Infections can also increase the pigs’ sensitivity to other disease challenges and affect vaccine efficacy, particular those used to control respiratory disease. Large round worms are also associated with a deterioration in fertility in adult breeding stock and reduced milk production in lactating sows. If such infections remain unchecked then the impact on herd productivity can be quite significant.”

MSD Animal Health estimates that a persistent worm infestation could be costing some herds in the region of £8 per finished pig produced. Diagnosing the problem effectively and implementing a strategic worming programme with Panacur®Aquasol (fenbendazole) can control the problem and help to put performance and profitability back on track.

Herds that have used the Serasca ELISA test say it has helped to improve the management of worming programmes - particularly with finishers, said Mr Neto.

He added: “These businesses have been able to identify high risk areas and have countered them with a strategic Panacur Aquasol worming programme. The flexibility of this oral, in-water anthelmintic and its four-day meat withdrawal period, makes it an idea option for all ages of breeding and rearing pigs. Commercially, it’s proving a very simple and effective treatment and control option, with cost benefits.”

Producers and their vets can use Serasca ELISA testing as a diagnostic tool when implementing a specific parasite control strategy or within existing herd health monitoring programmes.

Further Reading

Find out more information about worms in pigs by clicking here.

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