Aims: Monitoring for Salmonella in slaughter pigs is important to enable targeted control measures to be applied on problem farms and at the abattoir. The aim of this study was to determine whether pooled serum and meat juice could be used to identify finishing pig herds with a high prevalence of infection.
Methods and results: Samples of meat juice, serum, caecal contents, carcase swabs and pooled faeces from pig pens were taken from 20 commercial pig finishing farms and comparisons were made between the results of Salmonella culture, individual ELISA tests on serum and meat juice and pooled samples of serum and meat juice. Salmonella was isolated from samples from 19 of 20 farms. None of the ELISA tests showed a statistically significant correlation with caecal carriage of Salmonella or contamination of carcases. Serum mean optical density (O.D.) from pools of five, 10 or 20 sera showed a significant correlation with the Salmonella status of farm pen faeces. All pooled serum O.D. and sample/positive control ratio results correlated significantly with the results of the conventional individual sample ELISA. There was a statistically significant correlation between the incidence of Salmonella in farm pen pooled faeces and the prevalence of Salmonella in caeca of slaughter pigs.
Conclusions: The results show a generally poor correlation between serological and bacteriological results but pooled serum or meat juice samples could be used as a cheaper substitute for serological screening of farms for Salmonella than individual samples.
Significance and impact of the study: The availability of a cheaper test should allow the costs of Salmonella monitoring of pig farms to be reduced or allow more regular testing to enhance the designation of farm Salmonella risk status.