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HEALTH ▶▶▶


farrowing group shedding Salmonella, this can be spread to the whole batch. Piglets are often slow to eat after weaning and their guts are more open to infections. In addition, the nursery environment is usually warm and the first feed provides a very good growing medium for Salmonella. If cleaning and disinfection is not well done, then the Salmonella pressure on the piglets increases leading to a high number of positive animals. Serological testing, through blood samples – usually as part of a monitoring system – gives an indication of what is happen- ing at farm level, although it does not provide any information on the status of individual animals. Sometimes seroconversion – the time period during which a specific antibody develops and is detectable in the blood – occurs quite late. A group of animals can therefore show as being well in the serological test even though they can already be shedding Salmonella. Blood samples only show that the animals have had contact with Salmonella, but there is no information on the type of Salmonella. Sock and swab samples are sensitive compared with faecal samples, as pigs don’t always shed the Salmonella. But the Salmonella can stay alive in the surround- ings and can therefore be more easily detected by the sock or swab method.


Samples taken every six months On German farms taking part in Salmonella control pro- grammes, samples are normally taken at each stage of pro- duction every six months. The improvement can be seen in the number of positive pens or compartments compared with the previous sampling points. On farms with vaccinated pigs, serological tests can give a hint of any improvements. The good news is that the combined vaccination of sows and piglets helps to reduce the risk of Salmonella entering the food chain. In combination with improved hygiene, optimum management – involving how often pigs are mixed, how they are fed and rodent control, etc. – and a thought-out feeding strategy, vaccination can lead to a short-term reduction of Salmonella pressure on a farm and also of clinical signs. In the long term, it can help to produce pigs with a very low inci- dence of Salmonella, almost reduced to zero. One example is a newly built pig unit comprising 3,000 pro- ductive sows which started off with gilts from a Salmonel- la-contaminated breeding herd that had been orally vaccinat- ed as piglets. They were re-vaccinated at the 160th day of life and at each subsequent farrowing. This farm is still producing piglets, but no Salmonella has been found from sock samples taken from the nurseries for four years.


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The Netherlands ▶PIG PROGRESS | Volume 36, No. 3, 2020


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