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Successful Mycoplasma eradication

A guide for pig producers and veterinarians


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Farm suitability

Eradication options

Clean practices




The benefits of Mycoplasma eradication

Enzootic Pneumonia, the respiratory condition caused by M. hyopneumoniae is one the most prevalent diseases in the swine industry worldwide, affecting pigs of all ages and all types of farm or production systems.
The economic loses associated with Mycoplasma infections in pigs are not only related to a decrease in production parameters, such as increases in the number of days to reach slaughter weight, but are also due to the fact that mycoplasmal pneumonia becomes a chronic condition that predisposes pigs to other bacterial and viral respiratory infections. Mycoplasma are also considered to play a central role in Porcine Respiratory Disease Complex (PRDC). Freedom from Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infection is highly desirable as it can reduce costs, minimise losses and improve productivity performance. Mycoplasma eradication programmes, when correctly implemented, have been proven to be highly successful, leading to sustained gains in herd health status and farm profitability. These gains deliver producers a substantial return on investment (ROI) when evaluated against the total costs of implementing the eradication programme. This ROI analysis considers not just the medication costs but it also takes account of the cost of lost (or reduced) production as well as the cost of increased labour and the requisite improvements to farm buildings, equipment and bio-security systems. These related costs substantially exceed the simple cost of treatment. Thus, not only do producers benefit from sustained productivity improvement, but they also profit from an upgraded farm facility. This Mycoplasma eradication guide is a testament to Novartis Animal Healths continued commitment to helping swine producers and vets, worldwide, to improve the health status and profit performance of their herds.

Plan carefully before committing to a programme

The first step is to thoroughly assess the financial and logistical impact of starting a Mycoplasma eradication programme. It is important to remember that each farm is unique and that the extrapolation the results from eradication programmes implemented within other herds may not necessarily apply. Prior to committing to an eradication programme key questions need to be asked, and answered affirmatively, to ensure the investment is money well spent.

Is complete eradication a realistic objective?

What is the pig density in my area? Do nearby farms or pig truck routes represent a risk to my farm if I eradicate Mycoplasma? Epidemiological studies from European countries suggest the airborne transmission of M. hyopneumoniae occurs between farms located within a radius of 2.5-3kms Are there any specific seasonal conditions that represent a risk or an advantage if I choose to eradicate? Mycoplasma have been observed to survive better in cooler, wetter conditions such as are experienced in temperate climates during the winter months

Is the eradication programme practical? Can it be applied to my pig farm under the given circumstances?
A farm-specific program is required which is practical, reliable and that can be successfully applied within the framework of the farm management systems. It is important to remember that each farm is unique and what can be applied in one farm may not be valid for the conditions of other swine units

Can the eradication programme be funded without placing undue pressure on the business?
In addition to assessing the impact of incremental costs (such as extra labour, repairs, cleaning, equipment and medicines) any financial analysis must also make adjustments for the significant reduction in income that will result from the temporary loss of market pigs If total depopulation is proposed a source of clean pigs must be identified and secured to re-populate the farm Finally, the timing of the programme should be planned to optimize the pig flow and minimize losses due to lack of market pigs. Seasonal and market conditions such as weather conditions and peaks and troughs in pork prices should be assessed before deciding when to initiate the programme

Mycoplasma Eradication Plan Checklist

Do not consider an eradication programme unless all the following criteria are met: Clinical diagnosis of Mycoplasma is confirmed by demonstration of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (usually by PCR) The farm is situated a safe distance from the biological threat proffered by neighbouring pig farms, pig truck routes and other sources of live pigs infected with Mycoplasma Adequate funds are secured to cover the full programme costs and the business cash flow requirements A comprehensive bio-security and hygiene programme can be established to avoid re-introduction of infection (eg via vehicle traffic, farm visitors or disease vectors) The farm buildings including slurry systems, roofing, flooring and ventilation systems are able to be repaired and returned to good working order A supply of Mycoplasmafree replacement stock is available for the future All farm personnel are fully committed to the programme

Ensuring the farm is fit for eradication

A plan of attack is needed - the entire farm site and adjacent farm sites should be surveyed before embarking on the eradication program. A farm map should be produced noting the location of all buildings, roads, boundaries, feed stores, pig disposal areas and other landmarks such as lagoons, neighbouring roads and nearby farm buildings (possibly housing or transporting pigs).
Record the routes taken by feed trucks and other delivery vehicles and devise new clean routes and boundaries Weekly task check-lists, with staff and team requirements for each task, need to be compiled A detailed list of, and budget for, required repairs, maintenance and replacement work should be made Cost, and availability, of all new equipment and supplies required to upgrade the farm should be reviewed A large rubbish skip capable of gathering old and replaced debris from around the farm should be placed in an area away from the pigs near the farm boundary The existing pig disposal unit must be moth-balled and a new, clean one prepared

Eradication options and pig treatment

1) Total depopulation and restocking
This requires the elimination of all animals from the farm followed by thorough cleaning, drying, and disinfection of the entire farm site. Once disinfection and a further drying out is complete then the farm is repopulated with animals certified free of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. This method also provides the opportunity to improve the genetic stock of the herd and/or to eradicate other pathogens (such as PRRSV and APP) by careful selection of replacement stock with appropriate genetic and pathogen-free status. Total depopulation eradication programmes do not require the use of vaccines and can, in theory, be applied to virtually any type of pig production unit. However total depopulation has a major impact on the supply of market pigs. Even if replacement sows are pregnant, there will still be a minimum of 20 weeks without finished pigs for sale. This economical loss should be fully assessed, along with the cost of buying in replacement stock, before committing to the programme.

2) Partial depopulation and medical eradication

Pig producers often choose a partial depopulation method because it is less financially punitive. Partial depopulation significantly reduces the loss of market pigs for sale, removes the cost of restocking altogether and conserves the genetic profile of the herd. This method requires the depopulation of weaners, growers and finisher premises. Mycoplasma shedding has never been shown to occur beyond 36 weeks after a pig becomes infected. Therefore the most reliable results are achieved when all pigs under 10 months of age are removed from the farm. All remaining pigs must then receive a suitable treatment programme to rid them of any lingering Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. Extensive experience shows that Denagard is the drug of choice which, coupled with cleaning and disinfection, can eradicate Mycoplasma in more than 90% of farms at the first attempt.

Office Car Park

Medication Storage

Boar Shed

Boar Shed


Dead Pig Chiller

Farro win Hous g e

Dry Sow

Dry Sow

wing Farro se Hou

Gas AI Storage Emergency Evacuation Point

Dry Sow

Farro win Hous g e

Boar Shed

Boar Shed

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Dry Sow

Effluent Ponds

Model for partial depopulation and treatment eradication

There must be a 15 day gap in mating some 100 days before week 1 of the programme. This is designed to achieve a corresponding cessation of farrowing during weeks 4-6 of the eradication programme. This is the period when the depopulated area is being cleaned and the pigs transferred.

Weeks 1-4: Preparation

Remove all pigs up to 100kg from the farm leaving only adult pigs over 10 months of age Empty, clean and disinfect weaner, grower and finisher facilities Carefully select and cull pigs to enhance the future farm breeding programme Cull or remove all pigs with any sign of respiratory or other disease Do not introduce new animals

Weeks 4-8: Transfer

Denagard medication of breeding animals, lactating sows, suckling piglets according to Novartis programme. Cull all pigs that refuse to eat their fully medicated diet Do not introduce new animals. Stop all farrowing and subsequent pig flow for a period of 15 days During this central period, pigs are housed in a specific dirty area of the farm for 2 weeks (weeks 4 to 6), while the remainder of the farm is being intensively cleaned, disinfected and repaired as required At week 6, pigs are declared clean and moved to the clean area. At this time, pigs are injected with Denagard, and thoroughly washed and disinfected in a deep bath. The area previously used for the dirty pigs can be now cleaned, disinfected and repaired (as required)

Weeks 8-12: Production normalisation

The whole farm site now clean, populated, and working. New litters may be born now and processed Pigs remain on Denagard treatment for a further 4 weeks as insurance against any re-infection After the 12th week, Denagard treatment may be removed and new Mycoplasma-free pigs can be introduced onto the farm

Eradication options continued

3) Modified partial depopulation
For some large multi-site farms a modified partial depopulation method has been successfully deployed. This programme combines the design of the partial depopulation method with some additional disease eradication strategies such as herd closure, stabilization of the sow herd immunological status, and off-site early weaning. Breeder units Overstock your sow inventory. Ensure 100% seroconversion of the entire breeding herd. Keep only animals older than 10 months of age. All pregnant and lactating breeder pigs should be fed Denagard-medicated diets at high doses prior to, and during, the commencement of early weaning transfer programme. Early weaning transfer A large group of pigs are weaned at the earliest age possible, and moved onto the separate, and clean weaner-nursery sites. This must be done on an all-in, all-out basis. All piglets should be injected with Denagard at the time of transfer. Biosecure all-in, all-out practices The new clean pigs at the weaner sites, and at their subsequent grower-finisher sites, must be kept in strict bio-secure, separate and isolated allin, all-out sites to ensure that re-infections with Mycoplasma do not occur. This modified approach offers the most advantages from the pig production flow point of view. However, as there is a lack of depopulation in grower and finishing sites, the risk of Mycoplasma re-infection is greater. Breeding animals

What is the best Denagard dose for your farm?

The principle of eradication is the removal of 100% of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae from 100% of pigs remaining on the farm. Denagard dosage and treatment duration can vary, depending on the farm conditions and results of susceptibility tests.

Example of Denagard standard medication programme (eradication)

Application oral Dosage 6-8 mg thf */ kg bw, 14 days Half the dose for longer periods (depending on specific farm conditions) Suckling animals parenteral 10 mg thf */ kg bw, 3 4 times during treatment period of breeding animals

* thf tiamulin hydrogen fumarate (Denagard)

Clean, disinfect, and adopt new clean practices

The epidemiology of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is not fully understood. Airborne disease transmission has not been scientifically proved for distances exceeding 6 metres, neither has vector-borne transmission been proven. However, field observations suggest that both these routes, especially airborne transmission, are possible up to a distance of 3 km.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is generally considered a pig-associated bacterium, which only lives a short time outside the host pig, and requires certain climatic conditions (fresh and humid weather) in order to remain viable. So cleaning of the farm should be thorough but not necessarily exhaustive. This minimum level of cleaning is usually not sufficient to eradicate swine dysentery or ileitis at the same time.

Correct cleaning consists of:

washing all surfaces with soapy detergent and water to ensure the removal of all organic matter drying the washed surfaces completely applying a disinfectant capable of killing Mycoplasma (eg quarternary ammonia) When cleaning and disinfecting, the hotter and drier the weather, the better as this will assist drying. Shed panels may be removed to aid drying. The role of vectors in the transmission of M. hyopneumoniae has not been evaluated. However, any mechanical vector should be considered as a risk for uninfected farms. To this end, expert assistance should be sought to make sure all rodents and birds are killed. In the central phase of the eradication program (around week 6 of the 12 week program) pig disposal should be switched to the new clean site. At this time, the new clean staff and equipment should take over in the clean area of the farm now holding the clean pigs. They should not have contact with the remaining dirty staff and farm areas.

Cleaning and disinfection checklist:

Remove all bedding materials, such as straw, during the eradication Remove garbage from inside and outside the premises Empty, clean, disinfect and dry holding tanks and slurry canals Shift, clean and disinfect slats, slurry gates and other heavy parts of the slurry system Wash all surfaces, inside and outside the pig sheds, with soapy detergent to ensure removal of all organic matter Clean and disinfect tools, footwear and other vehicles Dry the washed surfaces completely Disinfect the farm site (including vehicles and equipment) with appropriate disinfectant Although Mycoplasma transmission by rodents, flies, birds, or any vectors has not been established, it would be wise to adopt pest control programmes to enhance the bio-security status of the site. This is especially important for the eradication of other pathogens as well as improving the overall herd health status.

Monitor success and remain vigilant to disease threats

After the cessation of treatment (after the full 12 weeks) evaluate growth rates and the financial return on investment by comparing the productivity parameters, veterinary costs and mortality with pre-eradication data.
Because there is a lack of reliable diagnostic tools for the identification of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, clean status is usually monitored at the slaughterhouse by examination of lungs for Mycoplasma lesions. The introduction of a small group of naive pigs and their subsequent evaluation is another effective means to monitor the herd for ongoing freedom from infection. Additionally there are effective vaccines for Mycoplasma which can help to protect the herd from subsequent disease, but it is important to remain vigilant for emerging clinical signs so appropriate treatments can be rapidly deployed.

Maintaining Mycoplasma-free status

To ensure the farm remains free from Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae it is essential to: lock gates at the farm entrance with appropriate signage to prevent uninvited farm visitors. While many people will want to see the new farm don't let them! evaluate the growth rates and new financial returns on investment by comparing the productivity parameters, veterinary costs and mortality with pre- eradication data rapidly assess any pig with possible clinical signs of Mycoplasma so effective measures can be taken to protect the herd regularly monitor the herd by checking lung samples at the slaughter house buy only pigs from farms which are free from Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae


Important questions to ask before embarking on eradication programmes:

Is the eradication realistically achievable? Is everyone, including every single staff member, 100% committed to achieving the objective? Is the eradication programme economically viable?

Partial depopulation (Swiss Method) this involves removing some of the animals from the site, culling poor performing and diseased stock, and confining the remaining pigs to a dirty part of the farm site while the rest of the farm is cleaned, disinfected and dried. Pigs undergo Denagard medication. Modified partial depopulation this method is a modification of the above Swiss Method that maximises pig flow and is more practical for large producers. This method does not require depopulation of the grower or finisher sites and requires strict all-in, all-out practices.

Key benefits of a Mycoplasma eradication programme:

Long-term productivity gains due to improved production performance and reduced Increased profitability due to reduced medical and veterinary costs Long-term improvement in the overall herd health performance. This is due to a reduced risk of PRDC and other disease conditions encouraged by the presence of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae An upgraded pig production facility with lasting bio-security benefits

Ensuring success
Key to the success of the programme is planning, timing and the total commitment of all personnel. Effective planning and timing will ensure the programme is effectively deployed minimizing lost production and maximising income. It is essential that the site infra-structure is upgraded to a level that sustains the programme and which facilitates the adoption of the best possible bio-security practices going forward. Minimising the threat of re-infection from neighbouring, introduced or passing stock is mandatory.

Choosing the right eradication approach

Every farm or production site has a unique set of circumstances that must be evaluated prior to selecting the best approach and the required treatment protocol. Expert advice is therefore advised to ensure all, financial, veterinary and bio-security issues are professionally addressed. There is a choice of eradication programmes, as outlined on pages 6-8. Total depopulation this involves removing all the animals from the farm site, the cleaning and disinfecting of the site and the subsequent introduction of replacement breeding stock known to be free from Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infection.

Novartis Technical Support

Novartis is 100% committed to supporting pig producers around the world. For more information or assistance please view our website at for a full list of helpful contacts.

This eradication guide has been reviewed and accepted by the Denagard Advisory Board and Dr Maria Pieters, the University of Minnesota. Eradication is not guaranteed, but has been achieved on many sites around the world when these guidelines have been strictly adhered to. Novartis Animal Health is fully committed to helping pig producers to enhance the health status, and productivity, of their herds.

Novartis Animal Health Inc., PO Box CH-4002, Basel, Switzerland. Tel: +41 61 697 57 35 Fax: +41 61 697 67 88