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Novel approach to sow vaccination offers protection for mother and piglets

A novel approach for vaccinating sows and gilts offers a new potentially safe and effective method for protecting both the mother pig and her piglets from disease.

4 September 2019, at 10:58am

Researchers with VIDO-InterVac are examining a new method of vaccination, which involves administering a vaccine directly into the uterus of the pig during artificial insemination.

Speaking to Farmscape, Dr Heather Wilson, a research scientist with VIDO-InterVac, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan, says the concept was developed to fill a specific need.

"Most of the diseases that are important for the pig industry actually impact reproduction or they impact the newborn piglets," says Dr Wilson, "So our thought was why not try to develop a vaccine that targets the uterus, the site for reproduction and, if we immunise the moms, then she can deliver passive immunity to the babies once they're born through her colostrum."

piglets suckling from sow

"Another very important point is that we wanted to work within current husbandry practices. The last thing we wanted to do is to ask producers to round up their animals, change their work day to accommodate a new vaccination schedule.

"We realised that 90 percent of our gilts and our sows are inseminated artificially (AI).

"During this time period they undergo what's called a lordosis response which means the sows will freeze up for about 10 minutes so it's a very safe time to immunise them and it's a time period that is happening anyway.

"You're inseminating, why not administer the vaccine directly to the uterus along with the semen and go from there?"

Dr Wilson says initial results suggest vaccine administered to the uterus provide a strong antibody response and there appear to be no negative effects on the semen or on the piglets or their mothers. She says more trials will be needed to but so far it seems to be very promising.