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The protective milk shot
Date:5/23/2014

Antibodies against C. suis are transferred via the sow's very first milk to the piglets immediately after birth. This was discovered by veterinarian and parasitologist Lukas Schwarz and his colleagues in 2013. These findings prompted the researchers at the Institute for Parasitology to look for a way to increase the level of these antibodies in sows. The ultimate goal was to provide the piglets with as much antibodies as possible via their mother's milk during the first few days of life.

Piglets from infected mothers are healthier

The idea paid off. Piglets from infected sows suffered less from the infection than piglets from non-infected sows. Overall offspring from immunised mothers had less severe diarrhoea or no diarrhoea at all. Piglets that became ill recovered faster and excreted fewer parasites compared to those from non-immunised sows.

"An infection with Cystoisospora suis causes serious gastrointestinal disease in piglets. The infection is continues completely asymptomatic in adult pigs", explains lead author Schwarz.

Sows produce antibodies for their offspring

To stimulate antibody production against Cystoisospora suis in sows, researchers exposed pregnant sows to infectious stages (oocysts) of the parasite two weeks before parturition. Oocysts as the primarily infectious stage stick to the floor and other objects in the farrowing barns. Piglets ingest them and the parasite colonizes the gut, attacking the mucous membrane. The parasites multiply in the body before being excreted and the cycle starts again. Cystoisospora suis can survive in pigsties for a number of months and is very hard to kill. This leaves farmers faced with the likelihood of new infections. Sows also ingest the parasite, but due to age resistance they are not affected by this coccidian parasite.

High concentrations of antibodies against the parasites are passed on to the piglets
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Contact: Lukas Schwarz
lukas.schwarz@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-125-077-6848
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert  

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