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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

BPEX Pig Health Scheme: a useful monitoring system for respiratory disease control in pig farms?

Hannah R Holt, Pablo Alarcon, Martina Velasova, Dirk U Pfeiffer and Barbara Wieland*

Author affiliations

Veterinary Epidemiology & Public Health Group, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, London, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:82  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-82

Published: 30 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Respiratory diseases account for significant economic losses to the UK pig industry. Lesions indicative of respiratory disease in pig lungs at slaughter e.g. pneumonia and pleuritis are frequently recorded to assess herd health or provide data for epidemiological studies. The BPEX Pig Health Scheme (BPHS) is a monitoring system, which informs producers of gross lesions in their pigs' carcasses at slaughter, enabling farm-level decisions to be made. The aim of the study was to assess whether information provided by the BPHS regarding respiratory lesions was associated with respiratory pathogens in the farm, farm management practices and each other.

Results

BPHS reports were obtained from a subset of 70 pig farms involved in a cross-sectional study conducted in 2008-09 investigating the epidemiology of post-weaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome. The reports were combined with data regarding the presence/absence of several pathogens in the herd and potential farm-level risk factors for respiratory disease. Principal component analysis (PCA) performed on BPHS reports generated three principal components, explaining 71% of the total variance. Enzootic pneumonia score, severe pleurisy and acute pleuropneumonia had the highest loadings for the principal component which explained the largest percentage of the total variance (35%) (BPHS component 1), it was thought that this component identifies farms with acute disease. Using the factor loadings a score for each farm for BPHS component 1 was obtained. As farms' score for BPHS component 1 increased, average carcass weight at slaughter decreased. In addition, farms positive for H1N2 and porcine reproductive and respiratory disease virus (PRRSV) were more likely to have higher levels of severe and mild pleurisy reported by the BPHS, respectively.

Conclusions

The study found statistical associations between levels of pleurisy recorded by BPHS at slaughter and the presence H1N2 and PRRSV in the herd. There is also some evidence that farms which submit pigs with these lesions may have reduced productivity. However, more research is needed to fully validate the scheme.