Risk factors for the infection with Brachyspira hyodysenteriae in pig herds

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

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Original languageEnglish
Article number104819
Journal / PublicationPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Online published7 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


Swine dysentery (SD), caused by infection with Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, is a serious disease in pig production worldwide. Quantitative risk factors triggering the occurrence of infection are unknown. The present case-control study aimed at identifying major risk factors related to presence of B. hyodysenteriae in pig herds. Twenty case herds and 60 randomly selected control herds with a minimum herd size of ‘10 sows/ 80 fattening pigs’ were examined by means of a questionnaire-based interview and a herd examination. Herds with previous eradication of SD were excluded. Logistic regression models revealed that the ‘positive/suspicious SD status of source herds’, the regular application of treatment, purchasing more than 4 batches/ year, contact to foxes, diagnostics performed during last 12 months, liquid feeding systems, rats on farm, and > 250 fatting places were associated with higher chances of a herd to be infected. On the contrary, having different sources of grower pigs within one batch, the presence of raptor birds and the presence of martens in the region were associated with fewer chances of being infected. The final multivariable logistic regression model identified purchasing more than 4 batches/ year (OR = 7.5, 95 % CI 1.8–54.3) and contact to foxes (OR = 5.9; 97.5 % CI 1.2–34.6) as the two main risk factors in our study. ‘More than 4 batches/ year’ implies continuous herd management supporting persistence of B. hyodysenteriae in an infected herd, but also increased number of purchases each increasing the risk of B. hyodysenteriae introduction by carrier pigs or transport vehicles. Foxes might be infected with B. hyodysenteriae by feeding on positive piglets and rodents. Besides, ‘contact to foxes’ might represent a lack in biosecurity. In conclusion, the risk factors detected underline the importance of biosecurity in SD prevention and control.

Research Area(s)

  • Swine dysentery, Epidemiology, Protective factor, Biosecurity, Fox