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Can J Vet Res. 2007 Jul;71(3):195-200.

Effect of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae colonization at weaning on disease severity in growing pigs.

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Swine Disease Eradication Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, 385 Animal Science/Veterinary Medicine Building, University of Minnesota, 1988 Fitch Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA.


To determine whether Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae colonization at weaning in off-site weaning systems is associated with the severity of respiratory disease due to this agent in growing pigs, we studied 20 groups, each group representing a different week in production, in sow herds at 3 farms of 3000 sows each that had a prevalence of M. hyopneumoniae colonization at weaning higher than 5%. The calculated sample size for assessment at weaning was 39 piglets for each group under study; 39 litters were randomly selected, and 1 piglet was randomly selected from each litter for testing and ear-tagged. In total, 780 piglets were tested. The presence of M. hyopneumoniae in nasal swabs at weaning was established by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). All groups were followed until slaughter, at which time blood samples were collected from each ear-tagged pig to test for M. hyopneumoniae antibodies, bronchial swabs were collected for detection of M. hyopneumoniae DNA by nested PCR, and the lung lesion score and percentage of affected lungs in the same animals were calculated. Correlation analyses showed a positive correlation between colonization at weaning and all 4 dependent variables indicating infection at slaughter: average lung lesion score, percentage of affected lungs, presence of M. hyopneumoniae on the bronchial epithelium, and seroconversion. This study provides evidence that severity of the disease can be predicted by the prevalence at weaning in segregated systems. Therefore, strategies focused on reducing colonization at weaning seem to be important elements in the global control of M. hyopneumoniae in segregated production systems.

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