Prevalence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium in lymph nodes of slaughter pigs in The Netherlands

R.E. Komijn, P.E.W. de Haas, M.M.E. Schneider, T. Eger, J.H.M. Nieuwenhuis

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A significant increase in the incidence of caseous lesions in the lymph nodes of slaughter pigs prompted a large-scale investigation in five slaughterhouses in The Netherlands. In total, 158,763 pigs from 2,899 groups underwent gross examination. At least one pig with caseous lesions in the submaxillary and/or mesenteric lymph nodes was observed in each of 154 of the 2,899 groups examined (5%). In total, 856 pigs (0.5%) were affected. As many as five pigs in each of 141 of the 154 positive groups (91.5%) had lymph node lesions. Greater numbers of pigs with affected lymph nodes were found in 13 groups (8.5%). Four pigs had lesions in the kidneys, liver, or spleen. Acid-fast bacteria were detected by microscopic examination of 121 of 292 Ziehl-Neelsen-stained smears of caseous lesions (41%). In a follow-up study, Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) bacteria were isolated from 219 of 402 affected lymph nodes (54.2%). Ninety-one of the isolated strains were analyzed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) typing with insertion sequence IS1245 as a probe. All but 1 of these 91 strains contained IS1245 DNA, indicating that pigs in The Netherlands carried almost exclusively M. avium bacteria and no other bacteria of MAC. Only one pig isolate exhibited the bird-type RFLP pattern. MAC isolates from 191 human patients in The Netherlands in 1996 were also typed by RFLP analysis. Computer-assisted analysis showed that the RFLP patterns of 61% of the human isolates and 59% of the porcine isolates were at least 75% similar to the RFLP patterns of the other group of strains. This indicates that pigs may be an important vehicle for M. avium infections in humans or that pigs and humans share common sources of infection
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1254-1259
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • complex
  • serovars
  • taxonomy

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    Komijn, R. E., de Haas, P. E. W., Schneider, M. M. E., Eger, T., & Nieuwenhuis, J. H. M. (1999). Prevalence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium in lymph nodes of slaughter pigs in The Netherlands. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 37(5), 1254-1259.