The effect of control programmes on proliferative enteropathy and its causative agent (Lawsonia intracellularis) was investigated on four farrow-to-finish pig farms in Britain. Faeces samples from groups of boars and gilts in breeding programmes, and from preweaning and postweaning pigs were monitored prospectively every month for six months by a L intracellularis-specific polymerase chain reaction (PcR). On one farm with 150 sows, an outbreak of acute proliferative enteropathy in boars and gilts was controlled clinically by the use of tiamulin and chlortetracycline. The percentage of detectable PcR-positive pigs decreased from between 50 to 70 per cent to zero in the treated pigs and their progeny less than 14 weeks old, but clinical signs of the disease and PCR-positive pigs were detected in some 14-week-old pigs derived from the treated groups. On another farm with 160 sows, an outbreak of chronic proliferative enteropathy in six-week-old pigs (23 to 26 per cent PCR-positive) was controlled by the use of oral tylosin phosphate. Faeces samples from the medicated pigs on this farm remained PCR-negative during the study period, whereas samples from unmedicated control pigs showed that the infection persisted in some pigs for at least six weeks. The two other monitored farms remained PCR-negative and clinically negative for the disease during the study period. These farms treated the pigs regularly with oral chlortetracycline.
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