Tackling Streptococcus suis
Even in modern pig farming some diseases remain dominantly present. Streptococcus suis (S. suis) which has over 30 sertoypes is one of them. Clinical symptoms of piglets laying on their side suffering from meningitis or having thick joints caused by arthritis are symptoms everyone has seen. Next to these easily detectable clinical symptoms the prevalence of piglets having sub-clinical infections is much more widespread. The slightest drawback could lead to clinical symptoms and sudden death. S. suis is at this point still to be managed with antibiotics, but to be future proof, Nuscience developed a sustainable nutritional approach based on a specific blend of medium chain fatty acids: C-Vita.
As many other micro-organisms, S. suis is a normal resident of the gut microbiome, but also present in the nasal cavities, upper respiratory- and genital tract of healthy pigs. Classified as a endemic disease in large parts of the world these Gram Positive bacteria are zoonotic, meaning that humans can get infected as well. Most recorded infections with S. suis are located in Asia. As shown in underneath map (figure 1) the distribution is related to pig density and therefore present in all intensive pig rearing regions. Meningitis and sepsis are also in humans the predominant clinical symptoms.
Carried into the pig farm through different pathways, S. suis can infect piglets in early life. Piglets are sterile in the uterus and are coming in contact with the sow's microbiome during or shortly after birth or through nose-nose contact. S Suis. is an 'early colonizer' in the gut of the piglet such as the genera Escherichia and Clostridium. As long as the balance is kept in the microbiome and the gut barrier stays intact, streptococci will resident inside the gut and will not lead to infection.
Like many pig diseases, stress has a big influence on the pathogenesis of streptococci. As the bacteria are already present in the piglet shortly after birth, all handlings done with the piglets in early life (teeth cutting, tail docking, iron injection) can trigger this opportunist to colonize. One of the main pathways to provoque arthritis are infections caused by wounds which can be caused by above mentioned handlings. As the pathogen is also present in the respiratory system and gastro-intestinal tract, infection via these pathways are possible as well. Extra stress caused by weaning is pro-inflammatory and releases free radicals inside the body. Besides this, the bloodflow in a piglet under stress will focus on the heart and lungs creating ischemy for the GIT. This will lead to a leaky gut and translocation of pathogens such as E. Coli and Streptococcus, leading to systemic infections.
Moreover piglets have a relative cardiovascular undercapacity compared to wild hogs, making them even more vulnerable for leaky gut. Avoiding stress as much as possible and supporting the piglet in early life with the right feeding program is essential.
Steering via young animal nutrition
S. suis, but also other pathogens such as E. Coli in the microbiome are predominant protein fermenters, thus quality and quantity of protein needs to be well balanced. The upside of the protein fermentation is the production of branched and short-chain fatty acids, having a positive effect by lowering the pH and supplying energy to the villi. However the downside is that protein fermentation will lead to mono-amines, poly-amines, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, phenols and indoles. As the gut barrier is rapidly affected within 24 hours after weaning, these toxic metabolites of the protein fermentation threaten the intestinal integrity, leading to inflammation. Steering on protein quality and quantity are important tools to prevent an S. suis translocation and consequent infection.
As the stomach pH plays a crucial role in the initial protein digestion and in the prevention of a orogastrointenstinal S. suis infections (Warneboldt et al. 2016) it is important to apply acidifying components in feed and or water (eg. Vitacid range of Nuscience). At the same time it is important to keep the Acid Binding Capacity (ABC-value) of the feed low, which can be done by choosing the right raw materials in young animal feed. Limiting the impact on the tight junctions by applying the right natural anti-oxidants to close the gut barrier will prevent the translocation of pathogens. Vitanox is Nuscience's synergistic mixture of natural anti-oxidants, lowering the intestinal permeability and maintaining the gut barrier (figure 2).
Steering the sow
It is clear that the sow plays an important role in the early microbial programming of the piglet. The colostrum of the sows is indispensable in the immunity transfer to the piglet as the placenta is epitheliochorial, indicating that the immunity transfer, unlike in humans, is relying fully on the colostrum. As today high prolific sows are having more light weighted piglets for the same amount of colostrum, these low levels of immunity are playing a big role in an endemic disease such as S. suis.
The sow's microbiome will determine among other items, the microbial load of her feces which will influence the piglet's possible intake of pathogens such as S. suis. Zentek et al., showed in 2013 that medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) can influence the gut microbiome to a more commensal microbiome, having more lactobacilli, butyrate producing clostridium cluster XIV bacteria and lower Enterobacteriaceae in the microbiome. The specific S. suis MCFA solution from Nuscience, C-VITA, will promote the growth of advantageous bacteria. It's specific composition will work bactericidal specifically towards Streptococci and will lower the pathogen load in the feces. Recent trials performed in The Netherlands on a 1500 sow farm showed that supplementing 1kg/ton of C-Vita as from day 35 in gestation till the end of lactation reduced the piglet mortality caused by streptococci infection from 0.2 piglets /litter to 0.03 piglets/litter. The use of penicillin on the farm dropped from 1.4 injections/piglet to 0.3 injections/piglets in the farrowing house. It is advised to continue C-vita in the piglet feed since it will perform his multiple action against S. suis in the piglets as well. Moreover, killing bacteria & improving immunity will reduce inflammation and thus save energy for growth.
Nuscience is offering a total nutritional approach to tackle Streptococcus suis in piglets: supporting the immunity and commensal microbiome of the sow with C-vita. High quality young animal nutrition (eg. Babito ® and Babi ® star) will prevent growth of S. suis and other pathogens. Finally Vitanox will help the piglet in supporting the intestinal barrier function against leaky gut and translocation of pathogens.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Bart Matton and Nuscience