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Ileitis: Obtain Current Status

When a swine disease strikes, you want helpful information immediately. Fortunately, there’s SOURCE, a systematic approach to disease control, prevention and management using a step-by-step process developed by Boehringer Ingelheim.

Whatever your state goals, it’s important to understand where Lawsonia intracellularis exposure occurs in your herd. The testing of feces, tissues, oral fluids and the environment may be essential in obtaining your current status.

Know the symptoms of ileitis

Recognizing clinical and subclinical signs of ileitis is important to spotting the disease early. Note: Many enteric disease clinical signs look similar. Work with your herd veterinarian to further diagnose if any of the symptoms listed below are present:

These clinical and subclinical symptoms can apply to both the breeding herd and growing pigs:

Clinical signs:

  • Mild to severe diarrhea
  • Acute bloody diarrhea
  • Stunted growth
  • Weight variation
  • Mortality
  • Anemia

Subclinical signs:

  • Reduced appetite and feed efficiency
  • Reduced average daily weight gains (ADG)
  • Weight variation

Which test is right for you?

The most common diagnostic tests for L. intracellularis are:

  • Qualitative and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) test (fecal or oral)
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) (testing serum)
  • Histopathology (testing tissue samples)
  • Immunohistochemistry (IHC) (testing tissue samples)

The sample types that can be collected and used for diagnostic testing include:

  • Feces
  • Oral fluids
  • Blood/Serum
  • Tissues (intestine, lymph nodes, cecum, colon)

Note: Fecal samples will only tell you if Lawsonia is present. However, because many enteric diseases include diarrhea as a clinical sign, it’s important to confirm it is Lawsonia that’s causing disease (as opposed to another pathogen) by testing tissue samples.

It is recommended to conduct diagnostic testing regularly, even if you’re not seeing diarrhea. Because the prevalence of ileitis is so high in U.S. swine herds, it’s likely that there could be subclinical impacts (e.g., reduced weight gain, lower feed efficiency) even without clinical signs.

Sample diagnostic testing protocol*

Step 1

Determine diagnostic testing design

  1. Cross-sectional – Choose one group in each age group to collect samples from
  2. Longitudinal – Collect samples from the same group as they age from 6 weeks to market

Step 2

Start with pigs 6 weeks of age, and collect samples every three to four weeks through market

  1. Ten to 15 pigs per age group
  2. Selection of pigs throughout the entire barn
  3. One pig per pen – Target pigs that you think are showing clinical signs

Step 3

Collect samples (Choose one or more of the following methods.)

  1. Blood/Serum
  2. Oral
  3. Intestinal tissue

*Always work with your veterinarian when developing a diagnostic testing program.

Tips for best sample collection

Good choices for diagnostic samples and tissues for pathogen detection include:

  • Fecal samples
  • Oral fluids
  • Intestine, lymph node, cecum and colon tissues

Note: Currently, q PRC testing can only be done using fecal samples.

Collection tips:

  • Collect samples and immediately refrigerate/place on ice.
  • Prepare both fresh and formalin-fixed tissue samples, if possible.
  • Send samples overnight to a laboratory using an insulated box with ice packs.
  • Completely fill out laboratory submission form making sure to note age of pigs.

HMC Diagnostics Lab

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.’s Health Management Center (HMC) is one of the leading swine-specific diagnostic laboratories in North America. HMC can conduct ELISA and PCR testing for ileitis, as well as provide a variety of other services. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on sampling.

©2017 Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

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