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New progress reported from researchers investigating Strep zoo in North American pigs

Scientists report progress in understanding a rare bacterial infection that results in the sudden death of pigs.

14 May 2020, at 9:44am

Over the past 14 months swine health officials and scientists have been tracking the movement of a novel bacterial infection in swine, Streptococcus zooepidemicus.

The infection, which results in sudden death, was identified in Canada in March 2019 and has since been found in several US states.

Speaking to Farmscape, Dr Matheus Costa, an Adjunct Professor with the University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine and an Assistant Professor with the University of Minnesota, says Strep zoo is a normal part of the microbiome of several species and typically doesn't cause disease.

"Streptococcus zooepidemicus is present in healthy pigs so that becomes a bit of a challenge when differentiating who could be carrying a potentially dangerous Streptococcus zooepidemicus versus the other pigs that are carrying the normal ones that don't do anything to pigs," explains Dr Costa.

"We're trying to explore that right now in order to prevent and control the disease.

"The other thing we have learned is that there seems to be a very specific Streptococcus zooepidemicus called ST-194 that causes disease in pigs.

"That's what we're working on right now is, what makes this Streptococcus zooepidemicus type problematic for pigs in comparison to the other ones that they have had for years.

"It really looks like this disease flares up once pigs have been exposed to some kind of intense stress event, such as a long haul or even a comingling of many different animals from many different sources.

"If you can minimise stress at any point, that is always welcome and it seems to help prevent flareups of disease associated with Strep zoo."

Dr Costa acknowledges this infection is rare and scientists are just scratching the surface trying to deal with this bug.