Ileitis-free pigs keep growing "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," as the old saying goes. And it's still true today - especially for producers who want to prevent ileitis from damaging herd performance and their bottom line.

Universal threat By now, most producers are aware that the bacterium that causes ileitis, Lawsonia intracellularis, is present in virtually every herd in the United States. In fact, serum samples show the presence of L. intracellularis is 96.2% in U.S. herds. superscript 1

Known for its stealth, ileitis strikes herds of any size and type, including high-health operations that adhere to strict biosecurity measures. Stressed pigs tend to be at most risk for ileitis, but the disease can attack pigs of any health status or age, from the nursery to grow-finish to the breeding herd.

Ileitis can strike in two ways - as acute ileitis, known as porcine hemorrhagic enteropathy (PHE) or the more common, chronic ileitis. PHE can lead to sudden death in pigs, including expensive breeding animals. Chronic ileitis however, is often more damaging because it can decrease average daily gain by 9% to 35%, which results in more days to market. superscript 2 Researchers have calculated performance-related losses associated with ileitis to cost producers $1.48 to $22.19/pig. superscript 3

Prevention is smarter Prevention, rather than treatment or control of ileitis, is a better option for producers for several reasons. First, because healthy pigs consume normal amounts of feed, producers can feel confident feeding rations containing TylanT Premix at 100g/ton will supply an effective dose of Tylan. Conversely, if producers wait until pigs become affected by ileitis, the pigs often become lethargic and lose their appetite, making feed-based treatment more difficult.

The ease of transmission of ileitis also makes a strong case for prevention. Dr. Steven McOrist, one of the world's leading ileitis authorities, says it takes only about one million L. intracellularis bacteria to infect a herd. While that may sound like a lot, he estimates average pig manure contains more than 10 million bacteria per gram, making the odds of infection quite high.

There's a possible feed intake component to consider as well. Dr. David Bane, a veterinarian with Elanco Animal Health in Sidney, Ill., says, "Some of today's genetic lines may have more variable eating patterns. This would again lead to potentially more difficulty in achieving efficacious levels of medication after the onset of ileitis." He adds, "Prevention makes more sense than treatment because dollars have already been lost when you see clinical signs of ileitis."

One solution Because there is no approved treatment for ileitis, and control methods only try to stop ongoing performance losses, prevention is the wisest strategy.

Tylan Premix is the only product approved by the FDA to prevent ileitis when fed at 100 g/ton for 21 days. Used in millions of pigs over the years, Tylan not only prevents ileitis, but also increases weight gains and improves feed efficiency resulting in less variation.

Dr. Bane reiterates, "When a pork producer uses a Tylan prevention strategy for ileitis, he's going to be dollars ahead."

Producers and veterinarians continually face new health management challenges. Larger sow herds, multisourcing and new management techniques often impact disease prevalence and presentation within herds. superscript 4 Researchers continue to discover new disease interactions that affect healthcare decisions. For all these reasons, efficient producers worldwide often choose to minimize production losses up front by focusing on disease prevention.

superscript 1Bane, D.; Bush, E.; Gardner, I.; Knittel, J.; Norby, B.; and Roof, M., 1997. Prevalence and Management Risk Factors Associated with Porcine Proliferative Enteropathy Seropositivity in the U.S. Swine Herd.

superscript 26th International Seminar, World Pork Expo, 1994. McOrist, S., University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

superscript 3Veenhuizen, M., Elam, T., Soenksen, N., The potential economic impact of porcine proliferative enteropathy on the U.S. swine industry. 1998.

superscript 4Halbur, P., Porcine Respiratory Disease Complex, Iowa State University, 1997.