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Devastating pig disease once unheard of appears again

Staff Writer |
A pig disease which was once unheard of in many countries is now re-emerging causing sales of vaccines to soar.

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Oedema disease, which had largely disappeared in many countries, is seen to be increasing and again affecting pig herds across the whole of Europe.

Veterinary surgeons are unsure of the reasons for this resurgence.

A vaccine launched five years ago has now protected over 47 million European pigs against the lethal and debilitating ailment.

The vaccine, Ecoporc Shiga, launched in response to this situation, was developed by IDT Biologika.

The vaccine is judged to have saved the lives of three million pigs, with an estimated value of over 100 million euros.

This takes no account of the poor performance suffered by those pigs that survive and tend to remain runt-like.

Vaccination proved highly successful on German farms where the disease was found to reduce the margin per sow by as much as 83 Euros, equivalent to 41,000 Euros for a 500-sow herd.

Currently used across much of the EU, the vaccine is protecting over ten percent of pigs in some countries.

Oedema disease is caused by E. coli bacteria which damages the walls of small blood vessels, including those in the brain.

“Most farms start vaccination when mortality due to oedema disease exceeds three percent," said IDT veterinarian, Dr Rike Schmelz.

"While mortality on some farms can top 15 percent, the average on vaccinating farms is probably 6.7 percent.”

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