Colonization of Suckling Pigs by Streptococcus suis with Particular Reference to Pathogenic Serotype 2 Strains

Montserrat Torremorell, Maria Calsamiglia, Carlos Pijoan

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Three swine commercial farms with high mortality rates in nursery pigs due to Streptococcus suis serotype 2 were studied. Brain samples from diseased animals were collected for a period of 6 to 10 mo and used to isolate the strain that was responsible for the mortality (virulent strain) in each farm. Tonsil swabs from piglets at 5, 10 and 15 d were taken to assess both total colonization and colonization by the virulent strain. The effect of sow vaccination against 5. suis on colonization was evaluated in 1 of the farms. All suspect tonsil isolates were identified biochemically and then tested against serotype 2. The genomic patterns of serotype 2 isolates were compared to that of the virulent strain using Rep-PCR. Results showed that total colonization by S. suis occurred very early in the pigs' life, with most animals being colonized by weaning age. Prevalence of colonization by serotype 2 strains was much lower than total colonization. After comparing serotype 2 isolates with the virulent strains, only 1 tonsillar isolate had the same genomic pattern as the virulent strain and it belonged to a 4-week-old weaned pig. The genomic pattern of the virulent strain was not found in any tonsillar isolate from 15-day-old or younger pigs. Although limited by sample size, sow vaccination against S. suis increased total colonization at the same time significantly decreasing colonization by serotype 2 strains. Even though most pigs are colonized early in age by S. suis, colonization by the virulent strain is of low prevalence and delayed in time. This could constitute a risk factor for developing the disease later in time, because animals would be colonized when maternal immunity is no longer present, allowing the organism to become systemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalCanadian Journal of Veterinary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998


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