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Curr Issues Intest Microbiol. 2006 Sep;7(2):65-71.

Social stress increases fecal shedding of Salmonella typhimurium by early weaned piglets.

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  • 1Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, USDA/ARS, College Station, TX 77845, USA.


"Segregated early weaning" (SEW) of pigs reduces exposure to pathogenic bacteria, but upon arrival at grower facilities pigs may be co-mingled regardless of farm of origin. The present study was designed to examine the effect of mixing (social) stress on populations of Salmonella enterica Typhimurium in SEW pigs. Piglets (7 days old; n = 28 in each of 2 replicates) were separated into 2 treatments (control and mixed groups) of 2 pens per treatment (7 piglets/pen). One (n = 1) "seeder" pig/pen was inoculated with 10(9) CFU of S. Typhimurium. Each seeder was placed with non-inoculated "contact" piglets (n = 6). A"contact" piglet was swapped each day between the "mixed" pens for 5 days; pigs in control pens were not exchanged. On day 5, the incidence of fecal Salmonella shedding was higher in the mixed contact pigs (P < 0.05). Rectal Salmonella and cecal coliform populations in mixed pigs were significantly (P < 0.05) greater than in control pigs but cecal Salmonella populations were not different. Mixed pigs were more susceptible to tissue invasiveness (i.e., Salmonella-positive tonsils and lymph nodes) than control pigs. These results indicate that social stress of weaned pigs may increase susceptibility to and/or fecal shedding of Salmonella. Food-borne Salmonella infections in the United States are estimated to cost the economy dollar 2.4 billion annually (ERS/USDA, 2001). Approximately 6-9% of human salmonellosis is associated with the consumption of pork products (Frenzen et al., 1999). Salmonella is relatively common on swine farms and has been isolated from all stages of the pork production chain (Davies et al., 1999; Fedorka-Cray et al., 1997b; Rostagno et al., 2003). Salmonella is a threat to the pork industry not only from a food-safety perspective as a public health concern, but some Salmonella serotypes can cause clinical illnesses in swine, negatively impacting production efficiency and profitability (Schwartz, 1991).

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