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Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae occurs worldwide and causes major economic losses to the pig industry. Affected pigs show chronic coughing, are more susceptible to other respiratory infections and have reduced performance.1 On endemically infected farms, piglets may become infected with M hyopneumoniae during the suckling period and pigs can be tested positive from weaning onwards.2–4
Dedicated programmes to monitor for freedom of M hyopneumoniae were developed within breeding companies delivering high health breeding animals. Serology is the preferential approach in order to screen for M hyopneumoniae, using an ELISA test.5–8 In case of positive serology, further decisions on farm health status and related consequences are based on additional confirmation tests. Currently used ELISA tests have variability in time to seroconvert following natural infection,9 variation in ELISA results and low test sensitivity (35%–65% depending on the test used10;), difficult interpretation in young animals because of possible maternally derived antibodies and variations in the detection of antibodies to different M hyopneumoniae strains.11 When specific pathogen-free (SPF) breeding pig herds become infected with M hyopneumoniae, the interval to emergence of clinical signs is a matter of concern, because transfer of subclinically infected breeding animals to customers constitutes a potential risk of spreading the pathogen.12 Clinical diagnosis of enzootic pneumonia can be verified by serological analysis.5 However, in SPF programmes, herd prevalence of M hyopneumoniae infections is often low and the positive herd predictive value of a serological result decreases progressively with the decreasing herd prevalence.13 In the Danish SPF program, final verification of herd infection with M hyopneumoniae is consequently performed by demonstration of the presence of the pathogen.5 Bacteriological isolation of M hyopneumoniae from affected lungs is considered the ‘gold standard’ diagnostic technique but M hyopneumoniae culture requires specialised isolation medium, is laborious, time-consuming (isolation from field samples requires four …
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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