Investigation of exudative epidermitis and ear necrosis in pigs
This thesis is an investigation of two common skin conditions of pigs: exudative epidermitis (EE) and ear necrosis (EN). The cause of exudative epidermitis and risk factors are well understood, however the study was prompted because of reports of treatment failure. A survey of veterinary practitioners (n=15) and pork producers (n=58) was conducted to determine which treatments are commonly used. Amongst farmer respondents topical treatments were often used and in serious cases injectable penicillin G was administered. Thirty farms with a history of EE were visited and skin samples taken from affected pigs. The antimicrobial resistance pattern for isolates of Staphylococcus hyicus and Staphylococcus aureus revealed that almost all isolates were resistant to penicillin G and ampicillin. In addition, certain isolates of S. hyicus as well as S. aureus were shown to possess the mecA gene which is associated with resistance to methicillin. The presence of widespread resistance to penicillin G among staphylococci isolates suggests a reason for poor treatment response. The presence of the mecA gene in staphylococci other than S. aureus recovered from pigs has not been reported before and is of interest from a public health standpoint. A second study investigated EN. The causative agent(s) and the associated risk factors are not well understood. Eleven case farms were visited and skin biopsies and oral swabs taken from pigs in early, mid and late stages of the disease. Bacteriological culturing was performed for staphylococci and spirochetes as well as histological examination of the biopsy samples. Farm-level risk factors were assessed on 14 case farms and 9 control farms. Staphylococci were generally recovered in abundance from the majority of samples but spirochetes were not cultured and only identified microscopically in a small number of tissue samples. Histology revealed that the disease appeared to occur first as a lesion on the epidermal surface that caused tissue damage and led to subsequent invasion of the dermis. This pathogenesis was consistent with the hypothesis that staphylococci colonize the skin surface and produce exfoliating toxins. Ear biting was noted to be commonly present and may be an important contributing factor.