Danish Pig Research Centre Annual Report 2012: Oedema and Lawsonia

Work at the Danish Pig Research Centre revealed that vaccination against oedema disease reduced piglet mortality. A manual for the better diagnosis of disease is in preparation.
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Vaccination against Oedema

Preliminary trial results indicate that one vaccination during the first week of life is enough to reduce mortality from oedema from eight per cent to one per cent, corresponding to a 90 per cent drop. ln the weaner period, vaccinated pigs grew 15g faster a day compared with those that were not vaccinated although this difference is not significant.

On behalf of a pharmaceutical company, the effect on mortality of vaccinating against oedema was investigated by PRC on one Danish farm with a long history of oedema disease.

The trial comprised 255 vaccinated pigs and 257 unvaccinated pigs. Vaccination was administered when the majority of the pigs in the pen were four days old. All pigs were weighed individually at vaccination, at weaning and at departure from the weaner unit.

The pigs were examined for side-effects immediately after vaccination and 24 hours later. None of the examined pigs displayed any side-effects from the vaccination.

Mortality in the control and vaccinated groups

One might ask, then, if it is profitable to vaccinate the pigs. From an economic point of view, vaccination is only profitable if mortality from oedema is generally high.

Vaccination is always profitable in cases of severe outbreaks. If the intention is for oedema vaccination to be routine - as a kind of insurance - vaccination costs must be analysed in relation to the following facts:

  • Every one per cent reduction in mortality in the weaner period decreases gross margin by around DKK3.50 per produced weaner
  • On some farms, vaccination has reduced the use of zinc.
  • Less time is expected to be spent on supervision and treatment of sick pigs.
  • Fewer concerns over oedema outbreaks and the resulting economic losses.

This investigation was only conducted on one farm and the effect will not necessary be repeated on other farms.

Diagnostic Diseases

Traditionally, a definite herd diagnosis requires analysis of many samples. However. this is expensive and therefore, too few samples are often analysed.

In cooperation with the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen and the National Veterinary Institute (DTU), PRC has drafted proposal for a diagnostic manual to able - fairly cheaply - to establish whether treatment for diarrhoea is required.

The concept is that faecal samples are pooled so that instead of analysing 20 individual samples, these samples are instead pooled to one.

The possibility of using sock swabs, as is common in broiler production, is also being investigated. The diagnostic manual will be tried on 50 farms in cooperation with practising veterinarians.

Besides Lawsonia, the population of pathogen coli bacteria and Brachyspira pilosicoli will be analysed.

The project was financially supported by the lnnovation Act Journal no. 3412 08 02226 03.

Further Reading

Find out more information on the diseases mentioned here by clicking here.

September 2013

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