A serological investigation was made of the pattems of exposure of pigs to Lawsonia intracellularis, the causative agent of proliferative enteropathy (ileitis), on farms in France and Spain. Blood samples from groups of adult female pigs in breeding programmes and from postweaning pigs were monitored, the latter every month for five months, by a L intracellularis-specific immunofluorescence seroassay. Four of 33 farms monitored in France (12 per cent) and three of 29 farms monitored in Spain (10.3 per cent) remained free of clinical signs and seronegative throughout the study. The postweaning pigs on all of the remaining French farms and on 20 of the 26 remaining Spanish farms had a pattern of infection characterised by seroconversion in the grower period, generally between eight and 16 weeks of age. The seroprevalence in these groups ranged from 8 to 20 per cent. On all of these farms at least 15 per cent of the breeding females tested were seropositive, and the farms were under similar management systems, with a continuous flow of pigs or between buildings on one site, so-called ‘one site, farrow-to-finish’ On the six remaining Spanish farms, under two management groups, a multiple-site system was used, with the piglets being separated from the adults at weaning and moved to a separate location. On three of these farms, the pattern of infection was characterised by seroconversion later in the finisher period, at between 16 and 20 weeks of age, and none of the breeding females was seropositive. On the three other multiple-site farms the pattern of infection resembled that on the one-site farms. On all of the farms, the seroconversion of groups of pigs was frequently associated with clinical or subclinical signs of ileitis.
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