For the first time, UK farmers are being offered a free diagnostic test to identify an infectious disease in pigs, worth between £150 and £200.
The test enables vets to identify the Escherichia coli subtypes producing Shiga toxin associated with the disease.
The test can be carried out in conjunction with farmers’ vets to provide a quick and accurate diagnosis so appropriate action, such as vaccination, can be taken.
Faeces and/or intestinal samples are sent away to validated laboratories enabling results to be confirmed within a few days. The company offering the test to farmers is Hysolv Animal Health UK.
Richard Brealey of Hysolv Animal Health UK said: “Oedema is a lethal infectious disease, primarily among young piglets, and can be confused with other clinical signs.”
The Animal and Plant Health Agency in Weybridge, Surrey and SAC Consulting Veterinary Services in Penicuik, Scotland will carry out the tests for the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Mr Brealey said: “Oedema disease is not always obvious and may be masked or controlled by the use of antibiotics, zinc oxide or low-protein feeds, which can also negatively affect productivity.
“This test will help confirm the presence of Shiga toxin-producing E coli on farm – a cause of serious losses in individual herds. We are therefore advising farmers to contact their vet to discuss using STEC-Check on their farms.
“This vaccine has been recently licensed for use in the UK. There is pressure on vets and farmers to reduce the use of antimicrobials and vaccination, together with other measures, and this will help them to do this.”
In Germany, where an effective vaccine, Ecoporc Shiga, has been developed, a nationwide study showed 59% of farms where oedema was suspected were affected by Shiga toxin.
In the UK, farmers will be able to carry out a do-it-yourself calculation of their return on investment online, using their smartphones or by visiting the Shiga toxin website www.shigatoxin.com