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New bug likely related to gastric ulcers in pigs

Scientists have described and discovered a new bacterium that may be involved in creating gastric ulcers in pigs.

The new bacterium has been proposed to be called Fusobacterium gastrosuis. The discovery and description was made by a team of researchers, led by Professor Freddy Haesebrouck, associated with Ghent University, Belgium.

The discovery was described in a poster presentation at the recent International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress, held in Dublin, Ireland, 7-10 June 2016.

Gastric ulcers: A common problem in pigs

Gastric ulceration is a common phenomenon and can lead to discomfort, pain, decreased daily weight and sudden death. The phenomenon is usually difficult to diagnose in live pigs. As Haesebrouck and his team point out, the etiology of this disease appears to be multifactorial. Pellet size, stress, other bacteria or the levels of fibre in pig diets are all thought to play a role, just to name a few.

A very severely damaged stomach. Photo: Danish Pig Research Centre
A very severely damaged stomach. Photo: Danish Pig Research Centre

The team said that results of a metagenomics study showed that an unidentified Fusobacterium species represented about 20% of the gastric microbial community. Most of these species are considered to be pathogens, the team decided to isolate and characterise it.

Swabs from pig stomachs

In order to do so, the team took swabs from 4 regions of 60 pig stomachs at a slaughterhouse. Eventually, they found 9 isolates of the new species from 9 different stomachs. In total, 3 of these were found in adult sows and 6 in pigs between 6 and 8 months. All isolates were obtained from pigs with ulceration of the upper-part of the stomach.

Having classified it, and compared it to other Fusobacterium species like F. necrogenes or F. mortiferum, the researchers concluded that the new species "can be differentiated from its nearest phylogenetic neighbours".

More research needed

The team added, "Whole-genome sequencing and quantification of colonisation levels in a larger number of animals are being performed. This, as well as experimental infection studies should allow to obtain better insights into the potential role of the micro-organism in the development of gastric pathologies in pigs."

The research was carried out by C. De Witte, R. Ducatelle, A. Smet, E. De Bruyne, P. Vandamme, B. Taminiau, B. Flahou and F. Haesebrouck, all attached to Ghent University's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

One comment

  • NWS SAID

    What is the source of this bacterium? is it introduced through feed? if so, would extruding the feed take care of this issue?. If it is a mutant developed in the gut, would competitive probiotics help?

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