Klebsiella pneumoniae associated with mastitis in sows for the first time

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Pig Disease Surveillance Report for August 2014 reveals that Klebsiella pneumoniae septicaemia has been associated with mastitis in sows for the first time.

Two outbreaks of Klebsiella pneumoniae subspecies pneumoniae (Kpp) were diagnosed in East Anglia during August. The first affected well-grown preweaned pigs from two-weeks old on an outdoor breeding herd. The problem had been ongoing for about 12 weeks (last four farrowing batches) prior to submission with a few piglets dying in a few litters from any sow parity; the sows themselves were well.

In the batch from which dead pigs were submitted, 12 three-week-old piglets had died out of 1,500 and a few had been found with dyspnoea, in sternal recumbency with reddened eyes shortly before dying. The submitted pigs had red/purple skin discolouration, fibrin stranding in the peritoneal cavities and pinpoint haemorrhages over the intestinal serosae. Pure growths of Kpp were obtained from viscera confirming the diagnosis.

The second Kpp outbreak was typical in that there were sporadic sudden deaths of piglets around three-weeks-old. However, the outbreak was unusual and significant in that, just after Kpp was diagnosed in piglets on the unit, several sows in the same farrowing batch as the affected piglets became severely ill, some affected sows were in adjacent farrowing paddocks to each other.

Eight sows were affected from the group of 150 which were soon to be weaned, and five died. Affected sows were acutely depressed and inappetant with skin discolouration, especially around the perineum, vulva and mammary glands.

A prompt visit was made by the attending veterinary surgeon who suspected severe toxic mastitis. This was confirmed when a sow was euthanased and submitted for post mortem.

The Kpp showed in-vitro resistance to ampicillin/amoxicillin only, which reflects innate resistance shown by all Kpp. As a short-term control measure, creep feed medicated with potentiated sulphonamide is being offered to piglets from 10-days old and prompt treatment of any further suspect mastitis cases with potentiated sulphonamide was recommended by the attending vet.

No further deaths have occurred to date and future use of an autogenous vaccine is being considered.

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