Salmonella in breeding pigs: Shedding pattern, transmission of infection and the role of environmental contamination in Irish commercial farrow-to-finish herds
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This study aimed to provide new insights into the epidemiology of Salmonella in pig production, focusing on potential shedding patterns in breeding pigs throughout a full production cycle and the risk of transmission of infection from the sow to her offspring. A longitudinal study was conducted on five farrow-to-finish commercial pig farms. In each herd, shedding of Salmonella in faeces was monitored in breeders through service, gestation and lactation. Swabs of the farrowing room floor and pools of faeces from piglets were collected on two occasions during lactation. Environmental pen swabs were also taken in the weaning and finisher houses. Salmonella isolates were serotyped, tested for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and typed by Multiple-Locus Variable number tandem repeat Analysis (MLVA). Shedding by breeding pigs was low in all stages of the production cycle; 5% of sows shed at service, the production stage with highest risk of shedding (p <.01), 1.6% shed during gestation and 2.5% after farrowing. Salmonella was detected in 4% of piglet faecal pools in the second week post-farrowing and 5% in the fourth week. Serotyping and AMR profiles of Salmonella isolates revealed that strains in sows and gilts were mostly different from strains isolated in weaner and finisher facilities. MLVA typing confirmed that the source of infection in piglets was in most instances the contaminated environment rather than their dam. Based on the typing results, it appears that sows do not pose a major risk in the maintenance and transmission of Salmonella to their progeny but instead the contaminated pen environment is more significant in the perpetuation of the organism on farm.
- Breeding sows, Environmental contamination, Pigs, Salmonella