Prevalence of antibodies to Lawsonia intracellularis in pig herds in Australia

Aust Vet J. 2010 May;88(5):186-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-0813.2010.00558.x.


Objective: Proliferative enteropathy (PE) of pigs is caused by Lawsonia intracellularis. Clinical severity appears to depend, at least partly, on the infective dose and strain of L. intracellularis. Serological tests are able to detect subclinical disease. The Bioscreen ELISA for detecting L. intracellularis-specific antibodies is widely used to monitor the circulating antibody status of pigs in Australia, but its sensitivity and specificity have not been reported. The aim of the present study was to measure the seroprevalence of antibodies to L. intracellularis in growing pigs in Australia.

Methods: Test sera were sourced from 1817 serum samples collected from finisher pigs from 63 herds across Australia in 2001, selected from a larger sample of 180 herds to represent the contribution that each herd size makes to the number of pigs produced. The test sera were the most recent collection of pig sera from all states and samples had been stored at -80 degrees C from 2001 until testing was conducted in 2008. Sera were tested using the BioScreen ELISA.

Results: All herds tested positive for L. intracellularis-specific antibodies. The mean percentage of positive samples within each herd was 84.2% (range 31.3-100%).

Conclusions: Lawsonia intracellularis is endemic in pig herds in Australia and cost-effective strategies to reduce reliance on antibiotics, such as vaccination and/or all-in/all-out pig flow coupled with cleaning and disinfection of pens, are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Desulfovibrionaceae Infections / epidemiology
  • Desulfovibrionaceae Infections / microbiology
  • Desulfovibrionaceae Infections / veterinary*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / veterinary
  • Lawsonia Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Logistic Models
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases / epidemiology
  • Swine Diseases / microbiology*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial