Emerging disease causes vaccine sales to soar

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

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.

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

“Most farms start vaccination when mortality due to oedema disease exceeds 3%.  While mortality on some farms can top 15%, the average on vaccinating farms is probably 6.7%,” said IDT veterinarian, Dr Rike Schmelz.

Piglets are injected intra-muscularly from four days old with a single 1ml dose.  It induces a high level of immunity against shigatoxin, produced by the E coli bacteria that cause oedema disease.

The vaccine is judged to have saved the lives of three million pigs, with an estimated value of over 100 million Euros, at an average of 20-22 kg liveweight. This takes no account of the poor performance suffered by those pigs that survive and tend to remain runt-like.

IDT report that vaccination has 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 reported to be protecting over 10% of pigs in some countries.

“Shigatoxin is one of the most potent naturally-occurring toxins,” said the company. “It destroys fine blood vessels causing fluid to accumulate in the tissue.  By acting as a preventive, vaccination can significantly reduce the use of antibiotics.”

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.