Does the Rearing Environment affect the Incidence of Zoonotic Infections in Pigs?
Research partners: University of Leeds
Sponsors: AHDB Pork, Yorkshire Agricultural Society
Project duration: 2006 – 2009
Aims and objectives
To compare the gut microflora of pigs reared indoors with that of pigs reared outdoors, for the presence of human pathogens. The organisms of most interest were Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium difficile and Verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli.
Findings to date
- This work has shown that rearing environment may affect the gut microbiota in pigs, but other factors, in particular diet and/or age, also play important roles
- It has been observed that pigs reared exclusively indoors retain higher populations of lactobacilli than pigs reared outdoors; this may confer a health benefit on indoor reared pigs
- Further work looking at the incidence of C. difficile in young pigs has shown that asymptomatic carriage of C. difficile is common in young piglets but decreases with age; this is contradictory to reports on C. difficile carriage in other countries and needs to be investigated further.