Since 1959, the Pig Health Control Association (PHCA) has run a national health-control scheme for pig herds believed to be free from enzootic pneumonia. During this time, many herds developed this disease without a simple explanation. From 1968, 55 such unexplained breakdowns have been studied in detail. The first signs in 50 breakdowns were either coughing in growing pigs (52 per cent of outbreaks), illness in adult stock (34 per cent of outbreaks) or pneumonia in routinely slaughtered pigs (14 per cent of outbreaks). In some outbreaks, enzootic pneumonia appeared to grow out of a pre-existing respiratory infection, which was not identified as enzootic pneumonia, in suckling pigs, suggesting that either Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae was already present in a latent state, or it more readily seeded damaged respiratory tracts from outside. In three outbreaks of this type, where pathological material was collected during the transition period, no laboratory evidence was obtained for the presence of M hyopneumoniae in the primary respiratory disease. Analysis of breakdowns in two national testing stations indicated that clinical/pathological signs might not develop until three to five months after the introduction of an infected group of weaners. It is possible, therefore, that a pig herd might not show obvious signs of the disease until up to six months or more after initial infection. There was little evidence to indicate that unexplained breakdowns arose from long term latent infection in other herds from which stock had been imported. There was considerable evidence, however, to suggest that breakdowns arose from extraneous sources.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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