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More Lawsonia infections noted in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is seeing a growth in the occurrence of ileitis in pigs since regulations for antibiotics usage have been tightened.

Ileitis, or proliferative enteropahty, is caused by the bacteria Lawsonia intracellularis for which a remedy is not really available, although vaccination is an option, said Martijn Steenaert, Boehringer Ingelheim, during a recent meeting organised by the Netherlands Animal Health Service in the town of Markelo, the Netherlands.

Infection usually occurs through manure. Risk factors include predominantly the mixing of animals (e.g. after weaning), rodents and also human workers going from farm house to farm house, thus infecting the animals. Pigs could have acute ileitis as well as subclinical version in which the pigs perform suboptimally.

Until 2011, L. intracellularis could be controlled by using the antibiotics tylosin, tetracyclin and doxycyclin. Those last two had mostly been used for respiratory infections but affected L. intracellularis too. With current regulations in the Netherlands to curb even the therapeutic use in pig production, ileitis appears to be making a comeback.

Pig Progress


  • D G S Mr Burch

    This is disturbing news from both an animal health and welfare concern and I hope the authorities pay attention to this regarding the indiscriminate banning of established medication procedures and their unforeseen consequences.
    The vaccine against Lawsonia is highly effective but I have only been able to use it on one farm, which was high health and was not using antibiotics at weaning but weaned the pigs at 4 weeks of age into straw to keep them warm and controlled post-weaning diarrhoea with zinc oxide at therapeutic levels. This way we could orally dose the piglets with the vaccine at the same time as they were injected with their PCV2 vaccine. This procedure has been successfully employed for over 3 years.

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