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Prev Vet Med. 2004 Dec 15;66(1-4):265-75.

Quantification of the spread of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae in nursery pigs using transmission experiments.

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Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Veterinary Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.


Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (M. hyopneumoniae) is present in almost all swine herds worldwide, but transmission of the pathogen through herds is not yet fully clarified. The aim of this study, performed in 2003, was to investigate and to quantify the transmission of M. hyopneumoniae under experimental conditions by means of an adjusted reproduction ratio (Rn). This Rn-value, calculated according to the final size method, expresses the mean number of secondary infections due to one typical infectious piglet during the nursery period. The period lasted from 4 to 10 weeks of age, corresponding with the nursery period used in most European production systems. Additionally, a comparison was made between transmissions of highly virulent and low virulent isolates. Forty-eight weaned piglets, free of M. hyopneumoniae, were housed in six separate pens. During 6 weeks, two animals experimentally infected with M. hyopneumoniae were housed together with six susceptible piglets. At the end of the study, the number of contact-infected animals was determined by the use of nPCR on bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. The Rn-values of the highly virulent and the low virulent isolates were estimated to be 1.47 (0.68-5.38) and 0.85 (0.33-3.39), respectively. No significant difference between the groups was found (P=0.53). The overall Rn was estimated to be 1.16 (0.94-4.08). Under the present experimental conditions, the transmission of M. hyopneumoniae, assessed for the first time by a reproduction ratio, shows that one piglet infected before weaning will infect on average one penmate during the nursery phase.

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