Many teenagers find themselves behind grocery checkouts and restaurant counters when it comes to taking on a part-time job in high school. Alyssa Betlach found herself working among 1,500 sows at a local swine farm near her hometown of Owatonna, MN.
The sow farm became a very familiar place to Betlach, who continued working there throughout high school and into her undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota. The time she spent on the farm served as inspiration and preparation for her current career as a swine veterinarian and researcher.
Mycoplasmal pneumonia of swine (MPS) first appeared in pigs a century ago, when producers had a hunch that it wasn’t influenza that was taking their droves. Today, the disease is nearly endemic.
“It exists in just about any country where pigs are raised,” says Maria Pieters, DVM, PhD, director of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s (CVM) Swine Disease Eradication Center.
When the minuscule bacteria, called Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, first enter a pig’s lungs, it can easily go undetected. But as the pig approaches the finishing stage, the bacteria cripples its respiratory system and stunts the swine’s growth. The infected pig takes longer to reach market size, elevating costs for producers. They also suffer, something veterinarians strive to eliminate.
There’s a better way to manage the spread of the disease, and Albert Canturri, a PhD candidate in CVM, is designing it.
Dr. Betlach and the team from the MycoLab recently published a study in the journal Vaccine, regarding the impact of multiple vaccines against Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. They assessed bacterial load and protection against infection in gilts.
Vaccination against M. hyopneumoniae reduced bacterial load in infected gilts.
Vaccination of both infected and contact gilts reduced M. hyopneumoniae transmission.
Genetic diversity of M. hyopneumoniae was not influenced by vaccination.
For our first article of 2021, the UMN swine group would like to wish you all the best for this new year. May it bring you a lot of joy and peace. As we reflect on 2020, we would like to share the posts that were your favorite as well as a few gems that you might have missed. We hope that you enjoy reading this selection and we will come back on Friday with our usual Science Page feature. As always, thank you for reading this page and for supporting us.