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News Article

Case of fatal listeriosis in pigs caused by contaminated silage


Listeriosis in pigs is a rarely diagnosed disease

Researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, investigated an episode of fatal listeriosis in fattening pigs in Austria with a mortality rate of nearly 10%. The research team traced the source of infection to the fed silage.

Writing in BMC Veterinary Research, the researchers say this is the first clinical report on this form of listeriosis in fattening pigs. They say that - contrary to current practice – Listeria monocytogenes should form part of the list of differential diagnoses when fattening pigs suffer from bloody diarrhoea and septicaemia, especially if silage is part of feeding.

The episode of listeriosis occurred in fattening pigs in a pig farm in Lower Austria with an integrated fattening unit with space for 450 pigs. Clinical symptoms such as anorexia, bloody diarrhoea and an increased body temperature up to 40°C were observed in about 10% of the fattening pigs, mostly in well-fed animals with a bodyweight of 40-100 kg. In total, 35 fattening pigs died in a period of about 3 weeks.

Two fattening pigs with clinical symptoms, as well as fed maize silage samples, were investigated for further diagnostics. Molecular biological characterization isolated identical L. monocytogenes strains from samples taken from the pigs and in the maize silage. Additionally, a high content of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol was found in the maize silage. “The feeding of maize silage contaminated by listeria, which survive under poor ensilaging conditions, was the most likely source of infection of the fattening pigs,” says first author Heiko Stein.

The researchers were able to show with their study that L. monocytogenes can cause clinical disease in fattening pigs that may be the result of immunosuppression due to high deoxynivalenol exposure. Stein said, “When feeding silage, it is important that all ensilaging procedures occur under appropriate anaerobic conditions to guarantee suppression of listerial growth.”

Read article: Listeriosis in fattening pigs caused by poor quality silage - a case report by Heiko Stein, Beatrix Stessl, Rene Brunthaler, Igor Loncaric, Herbert Weissenböck, Ursula Ruczizka, Andrea Ladinig and Lukas Schwarz published in BMC Veterinary Research (2018) 14:362, doi: 10.1186/s12917-018-1687-6

Article details

  • Date
  • 29 January 2019
  • Source
  • Vetmeduni Vienna
  • Subject(s)
  • Veterinary medicine