Skip to main content Accessibility help

Administration of non-pathogenic isolates of Escherichia coli and Clostridium perfringens type A to piglets in a herd affected with a high incidence of neonatal diarrhoea

  • C. Unterweger (a1), A. Kahler (a1), G.-F. Gerlach (a2), M. Viehmann (a1), A. von Altrock (a3) and I. Hennig-Pauka (a1)...


A bacterial cocktail of living strains of Clostridium perfringens type A (CPA) without β2-toxin gene and non-pathogenic Escherichia coli was administered orally to newborn piglets before first colostrum intake and on 2 consecutive days on a farm with a high incidence of diarrhoea and antibiotic treatment in suckling piglets associated with E. coli and CPA. This clinical field study was driven by the hypothetic principle of competitive exclusion of pathogenic bacteria due to prior colonization of the gut mucosal surface by non-pathogenic strains of the same bacterial species with the aim of preventing disease. Although CPA strains used in this study did not produce toxins in vitro, their lack of pathogenicity cannot be conclusively confirmed. The health status of the herd was impaired by a high incidence of postpartum dysgalactia syndrome in sows (70%) and a high incidence of neonatal diarrhoea caused by enterotoxigenic E. coli and CPA during the study. No obvious adverse effect of the bacterial treatment occurred. On average, more piglets were weaned in litters treated (P=0.009). Visual pathological alterations in the small intestinal wall were more frequent in dead piglets of the control group (P=0.004) and necrotizing enteritis was only found in that group. A higher average daily weight gain of piglets in the control group (P<0.001) may be due to an increased milk uptake due to less competition in the smaller litters. The bacterial cocktail was tested under field conditions for its potential to stabilize gut health status in suckling piglets before disease development due to colibacillosis and clostridial infections; however, the gut flora stabilizing effect of the bacterial cocktail was not clearly discernible in this study. Further basic research is needed to confirm the positive effects of the bacterial treatment used and to identify additional potential bacterial candidates for competitive exclusion.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Abe, F, Ishibashi, N and Shimamura, S 1995. Effect of administration of bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria to newborn calves and piglets. Journal of Dairy Science 78, 28382846.
Amtsberg, G, Bisping, W, El Sukhon, SN, Matthiesen, I and Krabisch, P 1976. Presence and pathogenic significance of Clostridium perfringens type A in swine. Berliner und Münchener tierärztliche Wochenschrift 89, 409414.
Anderson, RC, Stanker, LH, Young, CR, Buckley, SA, Genovese, KJ, Harvey, RB, DeLoach, JR, Keith, NK and Nisbet, DJ 1999. Effect of competitive exclusion treatment on colonization of early-weaned pigs by Salmonella serovar choleraesuis . Journal of Swine Health and Production 7, 155160.
Baxter, EM, Rutherford, KMD, d’Eath, RB, Arnott, G, Turner, SP, Sandoe, P, Mousten, VA, Thorup, F, Edwards, SA and Lawrence, AB 2013. The welfare implications of large litter size in the domestic pig II: management factors. Animal Welfare 22, 219238.
Davidson, JN and Hirsh, DC 1976. Bacterial competition as a means of preventing neonatal diarrhoea in pigs. Infection and Immunity 13, 17731774.
Fairbrother, JM and Gyles, CL 2012. Colibacillosis. In Diseases of swine, 10th edition (ed. JJ Zimmerman, LA Karriker, A Ramirez, KJ Schwartz and GW Stevenson), pp. 723749. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, IA, USA.
Fuller, R 1989. Probiotics in man and animals. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 66, 365378.
Genovese, KJ, Anderson, RC, Harvey, RB and Nisbet, DJ 2000. Competitive exclusion treatment reduces the mortality and fecal shedding associated with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli infection in nursery-raised neonatal pigs. Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research 64, 204207.
Genovese, KJ, Harvey, RB, Anderson, RC and Nisbet, DJ 2001. Protection of suckling neonatal pigs against infection with an enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli expressing 987F fimbriae by the administration of a bacterial competitive exclusion culture. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease 13, 223228.
Gibbons, JF, Boland, F, Egan, J, Fanning, S, Markey, BK and Leonard, FC 2016. Antimicrobial resistance of faecal Escherichia coli isolates from pig farms with different durations of in-feed antimicrobial use. Zoonoses and Public Health 63, 241250.
Gronbach, K, Eberle, U, Muller, M, Olschlager, TA, Dobrindt, U, Leithauser, F, Niess, JH, Doring, G, Reimann, J, Autenrieth, IB and Frick, JS 2010. Safety of probiotic Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 depends on intestinal microbiota and adaptive immunity of the host. Infection and Immunity 78, 30363046.
Guenther, K, Straube, E, Pfister, W, Guenther, A and Huebler, A 2010. Severe sepsis after probiotic treatment with Escherichia coli Nissle 1917. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 29, 188189.
Gunvaldsen, RE, Waldner, C and Harding, JC 2007. Effects of farrowing induction on suckling piglet performance. Journal of Swine Health and Production 15, 8491.
Levast, B, Berri, M, Wilson, HL, Meurens, F and Salmon, H 2014. Development of gut immunoglobulin A production in piglet in response to innate and environmental factors. Developmental and Comparative Immunology 44, 235244.
Luo, Q, Qadri, F, Kansal, R, Rasko, DA, Sheikh, A and Fleckenstein, JM 2015. Conservation and immunogenicity of novel antigens in diverse isolates of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli . PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 9, e0003446.
Mazmanian, SK, Liu, CH, Tzianabos, AO and Kasper, DL 2005. An immunomodulatory molecule of symbiotic bacteria directs maturation of the host immune system. Cell 122, 107118.
Melin, L, Jensen-Waern, M, Johannisson, A, Ederoth, M, Katouli, M and Wallgren, P 1997. Development of selected faecal microfloras and of phagocytic and killing capacity of neutrophils in young pigs. Veterinary Microbiology 54, 287300.
Melin, L and Wallgren, P 2002. Aspects on feed related prophylactic measures aiming to prevent post weaning diarrhoea in pigs. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 43, 231245.
Nguyen, TV, Yuan, L, Azevedo, MS, Jeong, KI, Gonzalez, AM and Saif, LJ 2007. Transfer of maternal cytokines to suckling piglets: in vivo and in vitro models with implications for immunomodulation of neonatal immunity. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 117, 236248.
Nurmi, E, Nuotio, L and Schneitz, C 1992. The competitive exclusion concept: development and future. International Journal of Food Microbiology 15, 237240.
Salmon, H, Berri, M, Gerdts, V and Meurens, F 2009. Humoral and cellular factors of maternal immunity in swine. Developmental and Comparative Immunology 33, 384393.
Sambrook, J, Fritsch, EF and Maniatis, T 1989. Molecular cloning: a laboratory manual, 2nd edition. Cold Spring Harbour, Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbour, NY, USA.
Schokker, D, Zhang, J, Zhang, LL, Vastenhouw, SA, Heilig, HG, Smidt, H, Rebel, JM and Smits, MA 2014. Early-life environmental variation affects intestinal microbiota and immune development in new-born piglets. PloS ONE 9, e100040.
Siggers, RH, Siggers, J, Boye, M, Thymann, T, Molbak, L, Leser, T, Jensen, BB and Sangild, PT 2008. Early administration of probiotics alters bacterial colonization and limits diet-induced gut dysfunction and severity of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm pigs. The Journal of Nutrition 138, 14371444.
Smith, HW 1965. The development of the flora of the alimentary tract in young animals. Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology 90, 495513.
Songer, JG and Uzal, FA 2005. Clostridial enteric infections in pigs. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 17, 528536.
Springer, S, Finzel, J, Florian, V, Schoepe, H, Woitow, G and Selbitz, HJ 2012. Occurrence and control of the Clostridium perfringens type A associated diarrhea of the suckling pigs with special consideration of the immunoprophylaxis. Tierärztliche Praxis. Ausgabe G, Grosstiere/Nutztiere 40, 375382.
Thacker, PA 2013. Alternatives to antibiotics as growth promoters for use in swine production: a review. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 4, 3539.
Thompson, C, Wang, B and Holmes, AJ 2008. The immediate environment during postnatal development has long-term impact on gut community structure in pigs. The ISME Journal 2, 739748.
Varga, C, Rajic, A, McFall, ME, Reid-Smith, RJ, Deckert, AE, Checkley, SL and McEwen, SA 2009. Associations between reported on-farm antimicrobial use practices and observed antimicrobial resistance in generic fecal Escherichia coli isolated from Alberta finishing swine farms. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 88, 185192.
Vejborg, RM, Friis, C, Hancock, V, Schembri, MA and Klemm, P 2010. A virulent parent with probiotic progeny: comparative genomics of Escherichia coli strains CFT073; Nissle 1917 and ABU 83972. Molecular Genetics and Genomics 283, 469484.
Wassenaar, TM, Beimfohr, C, Geske, T and Zimmermann, K 2014. Voluntarily exposure to a single, high dose of probiotic Escherichia coli results in prolonged colonization. Beneficial Microbes 5, 367375.
Wassenaar, TM and Gunzer, F 2015. The prediction of virulence based on presence of virulence genes in E. coli may not always be accurate. Gut Pathogens 7, 15.
Wassenaar, TM, Zschüttig, A, Beimfohr, C, Geske, T, Auerbach, C, Cook, H, Zimmermann, K and Gunzer, F 2015. Virulence genes in a probiotic E. coli product with a recorded long history of safe use. European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology 5, 8193.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed