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Salmonella in Pigs

Salmonella is an infectious intestinal disease that occurs at nearly every pig farm and is caused by the Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella is a zoonosis, meaning that the illness can be transmitted from animals to humans. When slaughtering the animals, the salmonella of infected animals can reach the meat and pose a risk of infection to humans eating the meat or the products which are made from it. Some studies show that salmonella control must start with the breeding and fattening of food-producing animals. Equally important for the prevention of salmonella infections in humans is hygiene in the slaughter of the animals, the processing of the meat and not least in the preparation. Hygiene and acidifying drinking water play an important role in controlling Salmonella density on pig farms. This is proven by the HyCare approach.

Salmonella in Pigs

There are four cornerstones to the HyCare approach. A germ-free living environment, the best quality drinking water, non-porous flooring and walls, and pest control. This approach, in conjunction with strict hygiene measures, lead to Salmonella-free piglets and fatteners.

For the HyCare piglets, all blood samples tested negative for Salmonella for three consecutive trimesters after they were transferred to the stall. By piglets from the same litter, which were stabled in a traditional stable, the blood values exceeded the critical limit. Salmonella continued to circulate among the standard piglets.

This trend continued for the HyCare fatteners. All manure samples from pigs at least 16 weeks old in a HyCare stall tested negative for Salmonella. In the manure samples from fatteners in the traditional stall, large numbers of Salmonella bacteria were detected.

In order to perform additional testing on the unprecedented results of the HyCare pigs, special shoes were used to walk through the HyCare stall as well. Samples were collected from the central gangway, the inspection area, and the pens of piglets, young fatteners, and older fatteners. All of the shoe samples scored negative for Salmonella.

Salmonella Infection

Infection primarily occurs via manure through contact with Salmonella infected animals or materials, or via visitors, drinking water, or pests. Once present on the farm, the bacteria quickly spreads via oral intake. The bacteria settles into the gastrointestinal tract and are spread via the lymphatic and circulatory systems.

Signs of Salmonella

Pigs do not typically exhibit clinical symptoms, which is why the illness often goes unnoticed. Symptoms that may be observed are:

  • Listlessness
  • Crawling onto each other
  • Lack of appetite
  • Watery, yellow diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Sudden death

Salmonella Consequences

Salmonella infection can lead to higher feed conversion, growth delays, and death. Furthermore, treating Salmonella can be accompanied by high costs for medicine, treatment, and labour.

Salmonella infection can affect people as well. Infected persons will suffer from gastrointestinal issues, diarrhoea, and fever as a result.

Preventing Salmonella Infection

Cleaning and disinfection

Measures can be taken that target the general hygiene of the farm, such as thorough cleaning and disinfection. Be sure to clean areas that are less obvious, such as behind and underneath feeding troughs. By coating floors and walls, effective cleaning and disinfection becomes even simpler. Concrete will house remnants of dirt and micro-organisms will settle into cracks and joints.

Drinking Water

It is important that there be no biofilm in the water pipes, given that this forms a protective layer for bacteria like Salmonella. Furthermore, providing organic acids via drinking water contributes to controlling Salmonella. Organic acids create a lower pH, which prevents Salmonella bacteria from multiplying. Organic acids also stimulate beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, which compete with Salmonella bacteria. Organic acids have a bactericidal effect on gram-negative bacteria, such as Salmonella.

Pest Control

Rats, mice, flies, and other pests are substantial transmitters that are not affected by hygiene protocols. For this reason, it is of great importance that they be controlled, e.g. measures for controlling fly larvae in the drain.

Visitor Protocol

Create clear rules for visitors. Show them to the hygiene station and be sure that it is only possible to move through the station in one direction. Provide clean overalls, boots, and wash rooms.

Animal Arrivals

Arriving animals are a significant source of Salmonella infection. The transport vehicle must be clean in preparation for loading and must also be cleaned and disinfected after unloading. It is advisable to direct the delivered animals into a separate area and to test the blood for Salmonella.

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