Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - ISOPIG (Piglet Isosporosis: Integrated disease management to improve animal welfare, food quality and safety)

This research project was designed to improve the current knowledge on I. suis transmission and to optimise intervention strategies. Towards this end, improved diagnostic methods, adapted in the original MC project, for detecting oocysts in the faeces were introduced and adapted at the host institute. Moreover, a detailed questionnaire was designed to collect all available information concerning piglet isosporosis in Greece and define the possible risk factors. The farms entered the questionnaire survey were also examined for the presence of the parasite. The procedure followed for this was, faecal samples collection from 5 litters (individually from 50% of the piglets of each litter at the age of 2nd and 3rd week) in each farm. This questionnaire survey, after analysing the results of a pilot study, settled on including 60 pig farms from all over the country in order to fully represent the Greek conditions. To date 12 pig farms were enrolled in the study 10 out of which were found positive for I. suis infection (83%).

Another goal was to validate information taken during the initial MC project under the local management systems and identify the factors that help to maintain the infection in the herd. For this a trial took place under regular farrowing conditions, on a farm where anti-coccidial compounds were not used and the presence of Isospora suis among litters was previously confirmed. The trial included 17 litters that were assigned to either: A) treated group including 9 litters treated with totrazuril on the 3rd day after birth, or B) control group including 8 litters that received no treatment. All litters from the control group became infested with I. suis during the lactation period. The piglet age at onset excretion ranged from 6 to 13 days and the cumulative incidence of infection per litter until weaning ranged from 8%, up to 100%. Regarding the treated groups the piglets from 3 out of 9 litters got infested with I. suis. The piglet age at onset excretion ranged from 6 to 13 days and the cumulative incidence of infection per litter until weaning was 8%, 25% and 67% for each litter respectively. Diarrohea was evident in litters from the control group but not in litters from the treated group. The results taken are very important in terms of applied practices in the farm because there are in agreement with the previous studies conducted in Denmark, under completely different conditions, and show great diversity of infestation patterns in the control group and because of the fact that the parasite is still present even in treated litters.

Further, it was aimed to evaluate and apply in vitro tests to assess the viability and infectivity of oocysts (testing various chemical or natural disinfectants) to help in developing practical means to interrupt transmission. For this a pilot study has been taking place in order to standardise the techniques before using them in practice. The techniques to be used were the in-vitro excystation method and the inclusion or exclusion of fluorogenic vital dyes (DAPI/PI staining). At this moment efforts are made to concentrate and clean the oocysts out of the faecal material. The last proved to be a rather laborious task because faecal consistency in diarrhoeic piglets is making difficult (probably due to the high fat concentration) to concentrate the oocysts in a fairly clean solution.

Finally, the effect of applied changes in management on the farrowing pens was to be explored by testing a number of possible interventions and evaluate practical means to delay the transmission until the piglets are old enough to better tolerate infection. The work that has been programmed under this objective is scheduled to take place after the completion of the questionnaire survey and the definition of the risk factors. With this information available we will be able to test the most appropriate management interventions aiming to receive practical results.

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