Prevalence of exposure and infection of Lawsonia intracellularis among slaughter-age pigs

H.M.J.F. van der Heijden, J. Bakker, A.R.W. Elbers, J.H. de Vos, A. Weyns, M. de Smet, S. McOrist

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    14 Citations (Scopus)


    The extent of clinical or subclinical infection associated with Lawsonia intracellularis within Dutch pig herds was uncertain. A case-control study of slaughter age pigs was used to study natural infection within Dutch herds and to compare diagnostic methods. From six case herds where clinical disease had been identified recently, and six disease-free herds, 40 pigs of slaughter-age were examined postmortem. The diagnostic methods used were: serology, gross examination, Haematoxylin and Eosin stain (HE), Warthin-Starry silver stain, Lawsonia-specific indirect immunoperoxidase of the ileum, and PCR of ileum mucosa and colon contents. There were 59% seropositive pigs in case herds and 26% seropositive pigs in control herds. Using immunohistochemistry, 57% of case herds and 46% of control herds were bacteria positive in the ileum mucosa. It was concluded that a majority of Dutch herds contain L. intracellularis infected finisher pigs. In some herds this is associated with clinical outbreaks of acute haemorrhagic enteropathy but in other herds no clinical disease is apparent. Many seropositive pigs in herds without clinical disease had evidence of Lawsonia antigen in sites other than the apical cytoplasm of proliferating epithelial cells, particularly the supranuclear region. It was uncertain whether to classify these pigs as having "recovered" from an infection or whether they have a sub-clinical or chronic form of the disease. We concluded that PCR examination of faeces and serology probably provide more specific results than gross examinations at slaughter, and that a monoclonal antibody-based examination of ileum mucosa should be the accepted screening method for this infection. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)197-202
    JournalResearch in Veterinary Science
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • porcine proliferative enteropathy
    • polymerase-chain-reaction
    • ileal symbiont intracellularis
    • intestinal adenomatosis
    • enteritis
    • reproduction
    • herds

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