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Porcine ileitis, a common disease also known as Porcine Proliferative Enteropathy, is caused by the bacterium Lawsonia intracellularis. The costs of the disease can be high and have been projected to exceed US$22 per affected pig and production losses can be significant even if physical symptoms aren’t apparent, writes JoAnn Alumbaugh.

In a recent report on agricultural news service, she investigates the merits of vaccination against this troublesome disease.

Ileitis can affect pigs in all types of production environments, from continuous farrow-to-finish units through to high health units with segregated facilities.

However an oral vaccine - Enterisol Ileitis - is proving effective under commercial conditions.

Currently the only oral vaccine available to control Lawsonia intracellularis, experience in Illinois and Minnesota shows it has valuable benefits to productivity and performance.


Commercial Proof

“If you commit the resources to use it right, the vaccine is very efficacious,” says swine practitioner Jim Lowe. Lowe is a DVM with Carthage Veterinary Services in Carthage, Illinois. One of his key clients is Maschhoff Farms, a large integrator that producers more than two million pigs a year.

Every pig in the 300-site Maschhoff system is vaccinated for ileitis, a protocol that was added almost a year ago. “We were using various combinations of in-feed medications. On a seasonal basis, about 12 percent of the sites would still have acute outbreaks after 18 weeks post-weaning. Those outbreaks cost about $8 per head, " explains Lowe

He says Maschhoff Farms hasn’t had an outbreak since switching to the vaccine, based on mortality and growth rate. “We trace diagnostics in late finishing and we knew we could go back and pin down confirmed ileitis cases. Last summer, it was zero,” he adds

Pre-planning before vaccination, proper execution and product education in general have helped with their success. Dedicated field advisers who oversee 50,000 to 80,000 pigs are responsible for administering the product in the late-nursery stage, or at about 30 lbs. Lowe prefers an antibiotic-free window of seven to 14 days before pigs receive vaccine. At Maschhoffs, no antibiotics are fed post-vaccination through the remainder of the grow-finish period.


Similar Advice

Paul Yeske of the Swine Vet Center, a multi-partner practice in St. Peter, Minnesota advises his clients to withhold medication seven days before and after vaccination, typically during the late-nursery phase before pigs move to grow-finish.

“If this is not possible, it needs to be communicated with the finisher ahead of time so there are no medications in the feed when pigs are received in the finisher,” says Yeske.

He says Ileitis is still a major problem in the industry, but it’s controllable - and oral vaccines are simple and effective. However, as with the proper use of any vaccine, and in line with Pork Quality Assurance principles, it is important that proper storage, timing and administration is observed.