On a recent visit to Korea, where the average number of
pigs finished/sow/year is about 13 and the mortality is caused primarily by the
porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC), I was asked if the new PCV2 vaccines
would solve the problem?
The new PCV2 piglet vaccines, one of which has just been introduced into
Korea (Ingelvac CircoflexÂ® - Boehringer Ingelheim), offer exciting prospects
for controlling infections that are caused by PCV2 and reducing mortality
certainly but they cannot be expected to solve all the problems that cause
mortality in PRDC.
Mortality associated with PCV2 infections in chronically
affected herds are between 0-10%. If you are producing only 13 pigs/sow/year,
there is a mortality problem of approximately 35%, if we use 20 pigs/sow/year as
a basic standard. There is more than just a PCV2 battle going on, although its
damage to the immune system will be compounding any other infection that is
One needs to determine what is going on in the farm. For years
in Asia, there was limited diagnostic activity, so one used to depend on
clinical inspection and monitoring of diarrhoea, coughing, mortality and other
clinical signs to see what was happening and where. This usually was rounded off
with a session of post-mortem examinations to determine the more likely causes.
Diagnostics have changed dramatically over the years and some companies
are offering full diagnostic cross-sectional serological profiles that you could
match up with your clinical inspection. This really is the way forward to
determine precisely what is going on in the farm, and then you can start to
address the issues that are causing your production and mortality
In the UK, when the post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS)
epidemic took off, there was a surprising fall in cases of E. coli
infection (see Figure 1). This was associated with the adoption of
the Madec principles to reduce stress at weaning and an increase of the weaning
age to approximately four weeks.
This has had a dramatic improvement on
post-weaning survival and piglet stress reduction and they are usually over the
effects of weaning in five to seven days rather than the normal growth check for
10-14 days. With care in the nursery stage (four to ten weeks of age) and the
use of 'all-in all-out' systems mortality can be brought down to almost 1%.
Post-weaning diets usually contain zinc oxide and an antibiotic to counter
Figure 1. Reported incidents of PMWS, E. coli, PRRSV, EP and A.
pleuropneumoniae in the UK (VIDA, 2006).
Number of infections
PRDC is comprised of a number of infections involving viruses, especially
PRRSV, swine influenza virus etc, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae
, the cause of enzootic
pneumonia (EP) and bacteria. Haemophilus parasuis
and Streptococcus suis
tend to hit the
younger pig but can be brought on with a concurrent PRRSV infection.
usually follows a mycoplasma infection and
usually hits the late grower or early finisher pig when maternally derived
antibodies subside at about ten weeks.
It can cause a severe mortality
problem on it is own but when mixed with the viruses such as PCV2 and PRRSV and
mycoplasma, can cause the severe mortality problems, which are reported in
vaccines will neutralise the PCV2 component. Mycoplasmavaccines can have a very
beneficial effect. In our UK Pig Health Scheme, which looks at herds lungs at
slaughter, the national average lung lesion score is down to 2.5-3%, which is
incredibly low but there are about 70% of pigs vaccinated against EP.
About 85% use single shot vaccines, so they do work. Already some
companies are talking about combined use of the PCV2 and EP vaccines, to avoid
handling stress, as they use the same adjuvant.
PRRSV vaccination raises more of a problem due to the drifting of new
genotypes away from the original vaccine strains and there is a variable vaccine
protective effect. There are effective A. pleuropneumoniae
vaccines available but
the uptake is relatively low, and hence there is a reliance on antibiotics.
These must be used carefully and antimicrobial sensitivity should be checked
There are opportunities to reduce high mortality in production
systems but it is usually a combination approach of improving diagnostics,
introducing new management systems, utilising vaccines and strategic medication, which will prove successful.