Using an indirect fluorescent antibody test, 54 per cent of 734 palatine tonsils of conventional pigs slaughtered in Australia and New Zealand were found to be infected with Streptococcus suis type 1 and 73 per cent of 959 were infected with S suis type 2. Variations in the prevalence of infection in pigs from different herds were thought to be due to differences in the sample sizes rather than to real differences in the prevalence between herds. The prevalence of infection with S suis was similar in pigs of either sex and in different age groups. Streptococcus suis type 2 was detected in the blood of 3 per cent of apparently normal pigs slaughtered at a meat processing plant. The presence of this organism in edible tissue may pose a health risk to consumers and meat-workers. Both S suis types 1 and 2 were detected in the vaginas and uteri of slaughtered pigs and the female reproductive tract could be another site for the carriage of infection. Piglets from sows with vaginas infected with S suis type 2 became infected earlier than piglets from sows with uninfected vaginas. No infected male reproductive tracts were detected and venereal transmission of S suis therefore appears unlikely. Three specific pathogen free herds were found to be free from infection with both S suis types 1 and 2. It is concluded that hysterectomy derived piglets are delivered free from infection, whereas some piglets born to sows with uterine and vaginal infections are either born infected or become infected at, or soon after, birth.
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