Epidemiological studies of Brachyspira pilosicoli in two Australian piggeries

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
Journal / PublicationVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number2
Online published14 Feb 2003
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2003
Externally publishedYes


The epidemiology of infection with the intestinal spirochaete Brachyspira pilosicoli within pig herds is incompletely understood. To investigate this further, cross-sectional and cohort studies were undertaken on two piggeries. Faeces were subjected to selective culture, and DNA was extracted from growth on the primary media and amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). On one farm, samples from other animal species and the environment were also examined. Isolates were subjected to multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE) and pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The prevalence on farm A (>2000 sows) was 2.4% (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.3, 4.4%). Infection was largely confined to grower/finisher pigs. The six isolates of B. pilosicoli recovered belonged to a single MLEE electrophoretic type (ET) and a single PFGE type. On piggery B, an 80-sow unit located on a research farm, the prevalence amongst growers and finishers was 12.2% (95% CI: 4.7, 19.6%). There was also evidence that weaners were being infected. Ten isolates obtained were genetically heterogeneous, being divided into six ETs and seven PFGE types. One of four isolates in one ET had an identical PFGE type to those on piggery A, and may have been introduced to piggery B in stock from piggery A. On farm B, B. pilosicoli was also detected by PCR in chickens, effluent pond water and wild ducks on the pond. An isolate from the pond belonged to the same ET as one from a pig, whereas the duck isolates were distinct. This study demonstrates the complex epidemiology of B. pilosicoli infections in piggeries.

Research Area(s)

  • Brachyspira pilosicoli, Environment, Epidemiology, Pig bacteria, Strain diversity