Novel diagnostics informing pig herd management on a global scale

Credit: Pascal Debrunner/Unsplash

The bacterium Glaesserella parasuis (formerly known as Hemophilus parasuis) is one of the leading causes of pig mortality and morbidity worldwide. Catastrophic disease outbreaks can occur when pig populations with different variants of the pathogen are mixed.

Research undertaken at the University of Cambridge led to a test which substantially improves the ability to identify circulating variants.

The test, a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR), is fast, simple and transferable to molecular diagnostic laboratories with basic equipment. It allows more effective targeting of vaccination to control outbreaks and better-informed pig flows to prevent spread and minimise the use of antibiotic treatment.

The test is being used by a US-based pig producer that also operates in China and Mexico to inform management and vaccination strategies for their 365,000 sows.

As secondary impact to the improvement in pig health, the test has generated commercial revenues of €35,200 for a partner in Germany, and is also available as a diagnostic in Canada, China and the USA.

The lab has also helped laboratories from Chile, Mexico and Colombia to use the test for research purposes.

“[The test] has been an incredible advancement in science and it has significantly helped the swine industry.”

– Testimonial from diagnostic services, University of Montreal