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New Diagnostic Tools Helping Characterise New Strain of Brachyspira

11 July 2012, at 7:12am

CANADA - New diagnostic tools developed by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are helping the pork industry address a new strain of Brachyspira.

Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, the organism that causes swine dysentery, had been thought to have been eradicated thirty years ago.

Researchers with the University of Saskatchewan in partnership with the Canadian Swine Health Board are working to characterise and control an infection that appeared in late 2009, causing similar symptoms.

Dr. Joe Rubin, a doctor of veterinary medicine with the University of Saskatchewan, says the most important accomplishment so far is the development of new tools to diagnose the new strain.

Dr Joe Rubin-University of Saskatchewan:

We've learned a lot about this new organism. Probably the first and maybe most important thing is that it does in fact cause disease.

We've done a number of infection trials and we've been able to show a causal relationship between Brachyspira 30446 and a swine dysentery like syndrome. I've been able to show that there's very unique requirements for culture of this organism and that many of the standard techniques don't work.

In our typical bacteriology laboratories, when we're thinking about Brachyspira hyodysenteriae or Brachyspira pilosicoli, those we've been able to culture for a long time.

When we're working with 30446 we need to use some new techniques that I had to develop over the previous months. Dr Janet Hill and Champika Fernando, who's the technician in her lab have also been really successful at developing some molecular diagnostic techniques.

They're actually looking for the DNA of this organism and are able to detect that in samples from clinical cases so we can actually come up with a diagnosis.


Dr Rubin says the long term goal is to develop new strategies to control these organisms and their spread so we can prevent transmission and prevent infection in the first place.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.