A cross-sectional survey on respiratory disease in a cohort of Irish pig farms

Maria Rodrigues da Costa*, Rose Fitzgerald, Edgar García Manzanilla, Helen O'Shea, John Moriarty, Maire McElroy, Finola Leonard

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background Respiratory disease is one of the most important factors impacting pig production worldwide. There is no available information on the prevalence of key pathogens implicated in Irish pig production. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence of pleurisy, pneumonia, lung abscesses, pericarditis and liver milk spots in finisher pigs of a cohort of Irish pig farms, and to describe the seroprevalence of: influenza A virus (IAV), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv), Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (Mhyo) and Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (APP). Results In brief, 56 farrow-to-finish farms (29% of the Irish breeding herd) were enrolled in the study in 2017. Data on lungs, heart, and liver lesions were assessed for each farm at slaughter. An average of 417 (range 129–1154) plucks per farm were assessed for pleurisy, pneumonia, lung abscesses, pericarditis, and liver milk spots. Blood samples from 32 finisher pigs were collected at slaughter for each farm. The observed prevalence of pleurisy and pneumonia was one of the lowest reported in similar studies in Europe (13 and 11% estimated average within farm, respectively). Pleurisy lesions were mostly moderate and severe. Pneumonia lesions affected a low level of lung surface (5.8%). Prevalence of pericarditis was mid-high (8%) and the prevalence of liver milk spots was high, with an average of 29% of the livers affected. For serology, 78.6% of the farms were positive for IAV, 50% were positive for PRRSv, 71.4% were positive for Mhyo, and 98.2% were positive for APP. Influenza virus was the main pathogen associated with pleurisy (P < 0.001) and Mhyo was the main pathogen associated with pneumonia (P < 0.001) and pericarditis (P = 0.024). Conclusions Farms affected with pleurisy had moderate to severe lesions. Farms affected with pneumonia had mild lesions, which could be the effect of the generalised use of Mhyo vaccination in piglets. The seroprevalence of IAV, PRRSv, Mhyo and APP in the present study sample is similar to or lower than in other European countries. Further research on the PRRSv and APP strains circulating in Ireland is necessary to support the design of national or regional control plans.
Original languageEnglish
Article number24
JournalIrish Veterinary Journal
Issue number1
Early online date21 Nov 2020
Publication statusFirst published - 21 Nov 2020


  • Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae
  • Influenza A virus
  • Lung scoring
  • Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae
  • Pluck lesions
  • Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus
  • Porcine respiratory disease complex
  • Seroprevalence


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