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Review: Sows, PEDv and App at ESPHM in France

Group housing of sows, PEDv and Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae – were three of the main themes of the recently held European Symposium of Porcine Health Management (ESPHM). The seventh edition of the event was held at the Cité des Congrès in Nantes, France, in April 2015.

The conference was a joint meeting for the European Association (EAPHM) and European College of Porcine Health Management (ECPHM) and the local French organising and scientific committee under the presidency of Catherine Belloc from the Veterinary School in Nantes.

The annual conference has grown over the last few years and was attended by nearly 1,500 veterinarians and associates, mainly from Europe but also with welcome members from the US, Canada and Korea. There were also papers produced by the college residents studying for their diplomas as well as more general member's and sponsor's papers. There were 287 posters covering all aspects of pig health and management.

Group housing of sows

Two papers were presented on the difficulties regarding the group housing of pregnant sows. This is compulsory in the EU since 2013 and most nations appear to have complied. In the UK this has been done for nearly 17 years, so it is interesting that our EU colleagues are coming to terms with this and re-discovering the many problems that occur, such as bullying, fighting over feed and the stress that can be caused, resulting in infertility. It takes time to get systems adapted to suit the requirements of the sows, stockmen and the facilities that are available.

Originally, this led to the introduction of individual feeding crates and then they found sows were happy to stay in them, which then led to gestation stalls being introduced – a full circle. Of concern is the possibility that they may wish this to be pushed further to group housing of farrowing and lactating sows. Mixing of suckling pigs has been done successfully before weaning but a sow likes its own individual space at farrowing and beyond and naturally isolates itself, so possibly the welfarists might take this into consideration.

Porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv)

The experiences of PEDv in Canada, related to a virulent Chinese strain, were reviewed by Julie Ménard from Quebec, Canada. The current epidemic, particularly in the US, was described as 'TGE on steroids'. The rate of spread had been astonishing in the US and by December 2013, 40% of sow herds had been affected and 1,500 cases had been confirmed. Nursing piglets were 100% affected with diarrhoea and vomiting and mostly died. They estimated that a 1,000 sow herd could lose 2,500 piglets and only return to 80% production by 7.4 weeks.

The movement of pigs appeared to be a critical factor in the spread of the disease. Canada had been affected in January 2014 but to a much lesser extent. The movement of pigs is mainly from Canada to the US but it was thought that the original incursion was via contaminated feed mainly into Ontario. In Quebec the first case was seen at an abattoir loading dock. As part of an integrated group producing over 1 million pigs per year, they traced back the infection to a grower/finisher barn and the infection had been carried by a contaminated transporter from another slaughter house and had not properly decontaminated the vehicle in the cold weather. The producer also spread it to another barn by not changing clothing and boots between farms. The lesson learned – 'good biosecurity can prevent PEDv transmission'.

The virus is highly contagious and is very resistant in the environment, it seems to contaminate and spread through the farm and at the slaughterhouse very easily (see Table 1).


Table 1 - PEDV RT-PCR positive environmental samples.

Deep pit +++ Farm loading bay ++
Floor +++ Producer's truck ++
Pen wall ++ Pressure washer ++
Farm office + Service man truck +
Entrance of barn + Abattoir loading dock +
Outside of barn + Truck washing bay +
Attic +


Reports of outbreaks of a similar US but lower pathogenic strain of PEDv have come to light in Italy, Germany and also the Netherlands. The introduction into the Netherlands was thought to be via contaminated trucks coming back from Germany. This strain could cause 65% mortality in piglets so was quite severe.

Reports of the outbreak in Ukraine have definitely been associated with the pathogenic strain from the US and the link was thought to be associated with contaminated packaging carrying semen. France has been the most active in the EU making PEDv notifiable and has modelled the effects of an introduction of the pathogenic strain. It is expected that it would have a similar impact as in the US if it occurred in Brittany, where the majority of pigs are kept. The most effective way of limiting the spread of an infection was stamping out infected herds and limiting movement in animals, if the notification delay was shorter than ten days. Movement restrictions should be applied in a 2 km zone around the original farm.

Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (App)

Professor Marcello Gottschalk from University of Montreal gave an overview of App. There are 15 different serotypes and these vary in different regions of the world (see Table 2).

Table 2 - A. pleuropneumoniae serotypes associated with disease in different regions of the world.

Region Serotypes
North America 5, 7, 8
Latin America / Caribbean 1, 5, 7
Western Europe 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11
Eastern Europe 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9
Asia 1, 2, 5, 9
Australia 5, 7, 15


Each serotype (ST) may have variable pathogenicity, in different parts of the world, but the reason for this is not clear. Some STs are transmitted easily but may not cause a disease or are relatively non-pathogenic. It is thought that it may be related to the exotoxins produced. Isolation and serotyping are important still and helpful when selecting which vaccines to use. Each serotype is vaccine specific so important for autogenous vaccines and commercially killed bacterins. The majority of commercial vaccines are made of Apx toxins I, II, and III and may contain other proteins such as outer membrane proteins. This combination of toxins and antigens allows the vaccines to be used widely against all STs.

Commercial highlights

There was a lot of activity on the vaccine side. A new APP vaccine comprising of Apx toxins was introduced (Coglapix – Ceva). A new combination vaccine for porcine circovirus and enzootic (mycoplasma) pneumonia (Porcilis PCV M Hyo – MSD Animal Health) was also introduced and several papers were presented on its efficacy. Elanco will be introducing a new E. coli vaccine for post-weaning diarrhoea (Coliprotec F4) and IDT Biologika from Germany are now distributing Respiporc Flu 3 and Ecoporc Shiga for oedema disease in growing pigs.

The next ESPHM conference will be held in Dublin, Ireland. The event will be run in conjunction with the International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress (7-10 June, 2016).


  • <p>Prof Marcelo Gottschalk, University of Montreal, Canada, presenting on App.</p>

    Prof Marcelo Gottschalk, University of Montreal, Canada, presenting on App.

    Photo: David Burch
  • <p>ESPHM presidents – Adreas Palzer, Enric Marco, Peter Hogedahl.</p>

    ESPHM presidents – Adreas Palzer, Enric Marco, Peter Hogedahl.

    Photo: David Burch
  • <p>ESPHM 2015 attracted almost 1,500 vets and associates.</p>

    ESPHM 2015 attracted almost 1,500 vets and associates.

    Photo: David Burch

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