Clinical outbreaks due to Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae occur recurrently, despite the wide-scale use of antimicrobials or vaccination. Therefore, new approaches for the prevention and control of these outbreaks are necessary. For the development of alternative measures, more insight into the transmission of the bacterium on farms is necessary. The aim of this cohort study was to quantify transmission of A. pleuropneumoniae amongst weaned piglets on farms. We investigated three possible transmission routes: (i) indirect transmission by infected piglets within the same compartment, (ii) transmission by infected pigs in adjacent pens and (iii) transmission by direct contact within pens. Additionally, we evaluated the effect of independent litter characteristics on the probability of infection. Two farms participated in our study. Serum and tonsil brush samples were collected from sows pre-farrowing. Serum was analysed for antibodies against Apx toxins and Omp. Subsequently, tonsil brush samples were collected from all piglets from these dams (N=542) in three cohorts, 3days before weaning and 6weeks later. Tonsil samples were analysed by qPCR for the presence of the apxIVA gene of A. pleuropneumoniae. Before weaning, 25% of the piglets tested positive; 6weeks later 47% tested positive. Regression and stochastic transmission models were used to assess the contribution of each of the three transmission routes and to estimate transmission rates. Transmission between piglets in adjacent pens did not differ significantly from that between non-adjacent pens. The transmission rate across pens was estimated to be 0.0058day(-1) (95% CI: 0.0030-0.010), whereas the transmission rate within pens was ten times higher 0.059day(-1) (95% CI: 0.048-0.072). Subsequently, the effects of parity and serological response of the dam and litter age at weaning on the probability of infection of pigs were evaluated by including these into the regression model. A higher dam ApxII antibody level was associated with a lower probability of infection of the pig after weaning; age at weaning was associated with a higher probability of infection of the pig after weaning. Finally, transmission rate estimates were used in a scenario study in which the litters within a compartment were mixed across pens at weaning instead of raising litter mates together in a pen. The results showed that the proportion of infected piglets increased to 69% if litters were mixed at weaning, indicating that farm management measures may affect spread of A. pleuropneumoniae
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