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Advanced epidemiological analysis of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infection in pigs

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Improving pig health

Understanding disease epidemiology is central for taking the appropriate intervention measures. A predictive model could significantly aid this process by evaluating the impact of various strategies of pig welfare.

Health

Porcine enzootic pneumonia (EP) is one of the main reasons behind the health problems encountered in the pig production industry throughout Europe. EP is caused by Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and its transmission through the herd is influenced by a number of factors, including management and hygiene. The scope of the EU-funded 'Advanced epidemiological analysis of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infection in pigs' (EPIDEMIOLOGY OF MHYO) project was to investigate the epidemiology of EP and develop a model for predicting pathogen transmission. To achieve the first objective, scientists used a multivariable approach to analyse various risk factors in EP onset in pigs. Results indicated that infection in piglets was mainly influenced by the introduction of female breeding pigs (i.e. gilts) into the herd and the method employed for their acclimatisation. Large farrowing compartments, increased temperature and weaning age were additional determinant factors for M. hyopneumoniae spread. The identified risk factors were subsequently incorporated into a mathematical model for predicting how various control measures could impact the within-herd transmission of M. hyopneumoniae. Following validation, the model could be utilised to set up prevention programmes and design effective strategies of controlling EP in infected pig herds. Researchers concluded that apart from strict hygiene conditions, extra care should be taken to allow newly introduced pigs to acclimatise to the new conditions before initiating breeding. These measures will not only reduce disease occurrence and the use of antimicrobial drugs, but will minimise antibiotic resistance and improve the overall productivity of the herd.

Keywords

Pig health, porcine, enzootic pneumonia, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, epidemiological analysis, pathogen transmission, infected pig, pig herds

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