Emerging disease causes pig vaccine sales to soar

A vaccine launched five years ago has now protected over 47 million European pigs against a lethal and debilitating ailment.

Levels of Oedema disease, which had largely disappeared in many countries, is seen to be increasing and again affecting pig herds across the whole of Europe.

The vaccine, Ecoporc Shiga, launched in response to this situation, was developed by IDT Biologika.

“Most farms start vaccination when mortality due to oedema disease exceeds 3%. While mortality on some farms can top 15%, the average on vaccinating farms is probably 6.7%,” said IDT veterinarian, Dr. Rike Schmelz.

Piglets are injected intra-muscularly from four days old with a single 1ml dose. It induces a high level of immunity against shigatoxin, produced by the E. coli bacteria that cause oedema disease.

The value of vaccination

The vaccine is judged to have saved the lives of three million pigs, with an estimated value of over €100 million at an average of 20-22 kg liveweight.

However, the real value figure could be much higher as the estimate takes no account of the poor performance suffered by those pigs that survive and tend to remain runt-like.

Vaccination proved highly successful on German farms where the disease was found to reduce the margin per sow by as much as €83, equivalent to €41,000 for a 500-sow herd. Currently used across much of the EU, the vaccine is protecting over 10% of pigs in some countries.

Shigatoxin is one of the most potent naturally-occurring toxins. It destroys fine blood vessels causing fluid to accumulate in the tissue. By acting as a preventive, vaccination can significantly reduce the use of antibiotics.

IDT Biologika (based at Dessau-Rosslau, Germany), is an innovative, privately-owned company with nearly 100 years of experience in researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing products for human and animal health.

The firm is part of the family-owned Klocke Group, IDT Biologika and employs over 2,300 people at nine production sites and offices around the world.

In 2016, it achieved sales of €190 million in animal health and contract manufacturing of vaccines and parenteral products.