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Swine dysentery is a highly contagious diarrheal disease of growing and finishing swine causing estimated losses of more than $2.4 million monthly to Iowa pork producers.
The spiral-shaped spirochete bacterium, Serpulina hyodysenteriae, is routinely identified by bacteriologic culture of intestinal specimens of swine affected with the disease. Specific differentiation of S. hyodysenteriae from other bacteria normally present in the intestines of swine is now possible with the use of a nucleic acid-based test developed by scientists in the Department of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences at UN-L. The test can detect very low numbers of S. hyodysenteriae directly in the stools of swine by a process known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR).