Longitudinal study of Salmonella infection in Italian farrow-to-finish swine herds.

Research paper by G G Merialdi, G G Barigazzi, P P Bonilauri, C C Tittarelli, M M Bonci, M M D'incau, M M Dottori

Indexed on: 05 Apr '08Published on: 05 Apr '08Published in: Zoonoses and Public Health


A longitudinal study of Salmonella enterica infection was carried out in five Italian farrow-to-finish swine herds previously known to be infected by Salmonella. Five litters were randomly selected from each herd and in each litter six piglets were randomly selected and individually identified. Thus, the study included 30 pigs from each farm. At weaning, individual blood samples were collected for serological examination from all selected piglets and on the same day from all sows in the farrowing unit. Piglets were bled again at approximately 60, 90, 150, 210 and 270 days of life whereas the last blood sample was collected at slaughtering. In one of the herds, in which the duration of productive cycle was about 12 months, the last blood samples were collected at 350 days of life. With the same time scheduling, five pen pooled faecal samples were collected from each herd for bacteriological examination. At slaughtering, mesenteric lymph nodes were collected from each ear-tagged pig. Sero-prevalence (cut off S/P ratio 0.25) in sows varied from 93.8% to 100%. In four herds, sero-prevalence in piglets showed a similar profile with complete decline of maternal antibodies at day 60 and clear sero-conversion between day 90 and day 150. In one herd, sero-conversion was observed earlier and 56% of piglets were positive at day 90. The peak of sero-prevalence was observed between day 210 and day 270. Sero-prevalence at slaughtering varied from 66% to 100%. Salmonella was isolated from faecal samples in four of five herds. No Salmonella was isolated from mesenteric lymph nodes at slaughter in two of the herds. Culture prevalence from mesenteric lymph nodes in the other three herds ranged from 3.3% to 30%. This longitudinal study provides original information about epidemiological dynamics of Salmonella enterica infection in Italian swine herds in consideration of the unique extended fattening period typical of the Italian production.