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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)...

Abstract

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.

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