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Immunity, and understanding how to manage it, remains the ‘big frontier’ in disease protection

13 May 2021, at 9:45am

Whether the goal is to decrease sow mortality, improve productivity, maximize weight gain or improve feed efficiency, a pig’s immune system plays a key role.

“The goal of any operation is to keep an animal as healthy as possible, which means keeping the immune system healthy,” Victor Cortese, DVM, PhD, a veterinarian* specializing in immunology, told a group of swine veterinarians.

He noted the research, application and practice associated with the immune system have made great strides, but there are still many unknowns.

“If we look at human medicine, immunology is the big frontier,” Cortese said. “We are still learning about the immune system, and there are mysteries we don’t understand.”

Borrowing a quote from Edward Bradley, an immunologist interviewed by National Geographic in 1986, Cortese added, “We probably know as little about the immune system now as Columbus knew about the Americas after his first voyage.”1

He cited cancer therapies as an example, noting that almost any modality for cancer now has some component of immune treatments.2 “Ten or 15 years ago it was all radiation and chemotherapy, so you can see how quickly things are changing and how much we’re learning,” he added.

Understanding the immune system

To appreciate the new concepts in immunity management, it’s important for veterinarians to understand there are two types of immunity — innate and adaptive — although these distinctions
are not mutually exclusive.3….

Read the rest of this article and download our Integrated flu management: New strategies for control special report.