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Ileitis Vaccination: Change Is Our Opportunity

by 5m Editor
10 July 2006, at 12:00am

Published by Pig Progress - Field study results from various regions in Germany where vaccination has been used to fight ileitis support the basic rule that ‘prevention is better than treatment’. None of the veterinarians dismiss the importance of analysing the economic advantages, however, particularly considering the progress in vaccine developments.

Producers will be well aware that they cannot afford to ignore the negative impact of disease on herd performance. Neither will the phenomenon that prevention is better than cure have slipped anybody’s attention, but it is still not feasible to apply uniform and complete vaccine prophylaxis programmes on all farms because of the cost. To achieve a beneficial economic balance knowledge of the pathogens which have a major impact on the respective farms and an evaluation of the herd health are first necessary. Solutions can subsequently be carefully examined; today these vary from an improvement in management, antibiotic therapy and metaphylaxis and vaccine prophylaxis.

Farrow-to-finish observation


In the presence of Lawsonia intracellularis, the economic impact of the losses due to the disease is an important factor in the choice for a vaccination programme.
The cost factor was precisely why Horst Gaumann was hesitant to start vaccinating herds in the North of Germany with an ileitis vaccine. Gaumann explains: “It is not easy to assess losses due to sub-clinical ileitis, plus tylosin is available at a low price for therapy and metaphylaxis. Initially, therefore, the vaccine was used in just three farrow-to-finish farms under close observation. On all the farms that were selected for vaccination, massive clinical problems due to Lawsonia intracellularis were present in the finishing units and partially at the end of the flat-deck; all of them were using tylosinphosphate for three weeks or more.

“The vaccination took place on day three or four post-weaning with antibiotic metaphylaxis against E. coli and Streptococcus suis starting on day eight. The vaccine application method was chosen in line with safety and technical prerequisites of the farms; one preferred veterinary administration using a drench while the other two used troughs, which seemed to be the easiest and most reliable method. Since most farms are already familiar with weaner bowls for tasty pre-starters or milk containing wet-feed, a problem-free uptake of the vaccine by all the animals takes place within one hour.

The best way to control this is a 1:1 ratio of animals and feeding places. Vaccine application via medicated water proportioners has not yet been tried by our veterinary practice due to the fear of antibiotic residues; these can harm the vaccine and create troublesome means of control over correct uptake of the vaccine. “Undesirable effects related to the vaccination were not seen on any of the test farms. Its efficacy was very good with the farm managers’ statements referring to the improved robustness, uniformity and growth of the animals. This was also demonstrated by the fact that reduction in total costs for antibiotics was much higher than expected and primarily based on the absence of any porcine intestinal adenomatosis (PIA)-therapy. Farms should not consider the ability to reduce antibiotics as a standard result from vaccina- tion, however, but on these farms where endemic clinical PIA was apparent, the prevention strategy proved to be better than treatment. Something for the future is to find out whether the use of the vaccine is profitable in either incidental or sub-clinical cases and needs more investigation.”

Nursery stage singled out

In the South of Germany, Stefan Wesselmann started to use the vaccine on several farms with 100 and 270 sows in December 2004; shortly after Boehringer Ingelheim launched Enterisol® Ileitis in the German market.Wesselmann says: “Extensive diagnostic investigations were performed before vaccination took place. Lawsonia intracellularis was repeatedly detected by PCR from faecal samples and from organ samples after necropsy and by serology. The clinical symptoms of ileitis were mainly present in animals of seven to eight weeks of age in the nursery barn. Typical signs were wasting, runt and pale animals with grey/black diarrhoea resulting in a high mortality rate. The losses due to mortality in the nursery barns varied between 5-12%. Furthermore, other causes of these clinical symptoms were investigated whereby PRRS, PCV2 and Haemophilus parasuis were detected.

“The percentage of diseased animals and the incidence of clinical symptoms dropped soon after starting to vaccinate against ileitis; mortality decreased to only 1-2%. Besides the reduction of clinical symptoms, the animals in the nursery barns demonstrated a better uniformity than ever before which led to clearly visible improvement of the results in the finishing barns.”

Frequently in final finishing phase

In the East of Germany, Frank Gottschalk comments on his experiences to assist a co-operation of farmers operating a multiplier unit consisting of 1,600 sows and a finishing unit with 12,000 finishing places: “The operation suffered from frequent problems with diarrhoea during the latter third stage of finishing in 2004; as much as 80% of all animals suffered from enteritis, a percentage which even increased at the time of sorting the first animals out for slaughter. “Serology and faecal sample investigations confirmed the overall presence of Lawsonia intracellularis and incidental Brachyspira pilosicoli.

Salmonellosis, E. coli infections and swine dysentery were ruled out as causative for the diarrhoea problems. Combining clinical symptoms and the laboratory results, the diagnosis of porcine proliferative enteropathy (PPE)/ PIA was confirmed. It should be noticed that the acute form of ileitis, proliferative hemorrhagic enteropathy (PHE) was of no real concern, which can explain why no changes in mortality rate were seen between 2003 and 2005. Treatments targeted for ileitis in the affected groups of finishing pigs at the time of onset of symptoms has led to various results. Neither the prophylactic Danish Model at entry of the finishing units (chlortetracycline plus lincomycin hydrochloride-spectinomycin), nor tylosin orally administered and dosed at various levels and at various points in time, or tylosin injections in individual animals could overall satisfy the farmers.

The vaccination of 22 day old piglets was started in December 2004. The vaccine was administered to the animals in a four-hour time frame via a proportioner. In this time frame, 100 litres of water was easily drunk by 500 piglets weighing an average 6-8 kg. Results from 5,000 animals already slaughtered are shown in Table 1. Since the vaccination strategy has been introduced on these farms, diarrhoea and PIA related enteritis is seen only in rare, mild and individual cases. An increase in the uniformity of weight improvement within the finishing groups is also recognised, while slaughter weight variability is significantly reduced within and amongst the groups.”

Economic comparison

Finally, in a trial carried out in the Mecklenburg Vorpommern region where the technical criteria of nonvaccinated versus vaccinated pigs have been compared, the data shown in Table 2 has been collated. The analysed data includes records of 29,880 fattening pigs in total. One dataset is composed by records of non-vaccinated pigs (control) and one dataset is built up with pigs vaccinated with Enterisol® Ileitis (vaccinated). The analysed control group consisted of 16,032 pigs out of 32 fattening groups that were slaughtered between November 2004 and July 2005. The 13,848 slaughtered, vaccinated pigs belonged to 27 fattening groups. They reached slaughter between May and November 2005.

This longitudinal study was executed in a farrow-to-finish farm of 1,600 sows and 10.000 fattening places. All pigs were housed under identical conditions. The economic analysis of the vaccination benefit is based on slaughter sales minus variable costs like feed, cost of piglets and antimicrobials and the economic losses due to mortality. Vaccinated pigs showed an additional gross margin of +€6.37 per animal. In the group of 13,800 pigs involved in the analyses this amounts to more than €85,000 higher gross margin than the un-vaccinated pig group. Clearly, this type of analysis, judging directly the economical impact of losses due to ileitis, remains an important factor in the decision-making process for individual producers considering the implementation of a vaccination programme.

Further Information

Read more about: Boehringer Ingelheim's Enterisol® Ileitis

Source: First published in Pig Progress, Volume 22, Number 1 - © Pig Progress. Provided by Boehringher Ingelhiem