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New Diagnostic Tools Tracks Novel Brachyspira Strain

19 October 2012, at 9:37am

CANADA - New diagnostic tools developed at the University of Saskatchewan are making it possible to track a novel strain of Brachyspira, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, the organism that causes swine dysentery, had been thought eradicated thirty years ago but in late 2009 a new pathogen emerged which caused similar symptoms.

"Brachyspira strain 30446 Characterization and Infection Trials" was among the topics discussed yesterday as part of the 2012 Canadian Swine Health Forum.

Dr. Joe Rubin, an assistant professor of veterinary microbiology with the University of Saskatchewan, says the pathogen has been identified in Alberta and Saskatchewan and in the US in a number of states in the mid-west as well as North Carolina and Virginia.

Dr Joe Rubin-University of Saskatchewan:

30446 causes a syndrome which is clinically indistinguishable from swine dysentery, so it causes mucco-hemorrhagic diarrhea in grow finisher pigs.

One of the important differences associated with it or one of the implications of the differences is that it's not detected by some of our standard diagnostic tests and so you can have sick pigs but, if you're not looking for the organism using the right test you aren't going to find it and you won't get and answer as to what exactly your problem is caused by. Some of the molecular techniques that we've used to identify these organisms are very specific. If you don't know exactly what you're looking for you're not going to find it. It's kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack.

What we've done is develop some new molecular techniques that are specific to this organism so that we can identify it and also worked out a system of culture followed by molecular diagnostic tests afterwards to get a specific diagnosis.


Dr Rubin says we don't know what has enabled this pathogen to spread as efficiently as it has in the United States but we do know it's much more widespread than had been realized.

Further Reading

Find out more information on swine dysentery by clicking here.