To investigate the prevalence of chlamydial infection and their significance for reproductive disorders in sow breeding herds in Germany, blood samples of 1493 pigs were taken for a serological survey by enzyme-linked-immunosorbent-assay (ELISA).
Antibodies to Chlamydiae were found in 33% of the samples, in all herds investigated responders could be detected.
The rate of seropositive animals in different farms varied from 4.3% to 72.7%.
The percentage of positive responders in the farms correlated positively with the occurrence of MMA-syndrome (mastitis, metritis, agalactia), return to oestrus and diseases of the piglets.
Also these herds showed less weaned piglets per sow and litter.
Comparison of seronegative and seropositive sows within single farms revealed also worse reproductive data for seropositive sows.
A significant relationship could be found between farms with a high quota of sero-positive sows and poor hygiene status as well as poultry keeping.
As a second step 124 cervical swabs and 9 aborted piglets were investigated for chlamydial antigen by capture-ELISA and polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Using the capture-ELISA for investigation only 3 probes with chlamydial antigen could be detected, however, examination by the more sensible PCR gave positive results in 50% of the probes. 20% of the PCR-positive animals were clinically healthy sows, 80% of the PCR-positive probes originated from sows with reproductive disorders.
A significant relationship could be shown between PCR-positive probes and the incidence of abortion and litters with stillborn piglets and piglets with low viability.
Swabs from 93 of the 124 sows were investigated as well for other bacterial pathogens of reproductive disorders.
A high degree of micro-organisms of different species could be detected in 70% of the samples of sows with reproductive disorders and in 35% of the samples of clinically healthy sows.
Species differentiation of the chlamydial antigen positive samples was done by southern blot hybridisation.
Herewith C. psittaci could be diagnosed in all positive samples.
Additionally 8 probes revealed a mixed infection with C. psittaci and C. trachomatis.
The results of the present study show, that the prevalence of chlamydial infections in breeding herds is high and underline the importance of chlamydial infections for reproductive disorders. Single chlamydial infections as well as mixed infections with other pathogens must be considered.
Source: Eggemann G, Wendt M, Hoelzle LE, Jager C, Weiss R, Failing K. (2000): Prevalence of Chlamydia infections in breeding sows and their importance in reproductive failure. In: Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2000 Jan;107(1):3-10.
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