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Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, which is non-pathogenic for human beings, is the aetiologic agent of enzootic pneumonia (EP) in pigs. This disease is widespread, leading to endemic infections in regions of intensive pig production worldwide. The development and severity of EP is influenced by various factors including management, hygiene, vaccination etc (Maes and others 2008). Moreover, the course of EP depends on the virulence of the M hyopneumoniae strain affecting the pigs (Vicca and others 2003). The between- and within-herd transmission of M hyopneumoniae is predominantly maintained by direct contact between infected and non-infected pigs. Nonetheless, aerosol transmission as a source of infection has been described (Staerk and others 1998), and several risk factors for re-infection of herds that had eradicated M hyopneumoniae in the past indicate the relevance of other vectors than living pigs. Especially for protection of SPF herds and prevention of the introduction of high virulent strains into herds, substantial knowledge about potential vectors transporting M hyopneumoniae is a prerequisite.
In a cross-sectional study, originally designed to investigate M hyopneumoniae infections in suckling pigs, the farmers and animal caretakers, respectively, were examined for the presence of M hyopneumoniae on their nasal mucosa. Participating farms were selected from databases of five marketing companies that were trading growing and slaughter weight pigs in …