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Open Access Research article

The occurrence of Chlamydia spp. in pigs with and without clinical disease

Stina Englund1, Carl Hård af Segerstad1, Frida Arnlund2, Eva Westergren1 and Magdalena Jacobson3*

Author Affiliations

1 National Veterinary Institute, 751 89 Uppsala, Sweden

2 Stavby-Väsby 86, 747 94 Alunda, Sweden

3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 7054, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:9  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-9

Published: 26 January 2012

Abstract

Background

Within the genera Chlamydia, the development of refined diagnostic techniques has allowed the identification of four species that are capable of infecting pigs. The epidemiology, clinical, and zoonotic impacts of these species are however largely unknown. The study aimed to investigate the presence of Chlamydia spp. in the intestines of growing pigs and in conjunctival swabs from finisher pigs, and relate the findings to clinical signs.

Results

By histology, 20 of 48 pigs had intestinal lesions that may be consistent with chlamydial infection. By PCR, forty-six of the pigs were positive whereas two samples were inhibited. Sequencing of 19 DNA extracts identified these as Chlamydia suis. By immunohistochemistry, 32 of 44 samples were positive and a significant relationship was detected between macroscopically visible intestinal lesions and a high degree of infection. By real-time PCR, a significant difference was detected between pigs with and without conjunctivitis when a Ct value of 36 was employed but not when a Ct value of 38 was employed.

Conclusions

Chlamydia suis was demonstrated in most samples and overall, no correlation to clinical signs was detected. However, a correlation was noted between samples with a high degree of infection and the presence of clinical signs. It is possible, that the intensive pig production systems studied might predispose for the transmission and maintenance of the infection thus increasing the infectious load and the risk for disease in the pig.