Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Experimental inoculation of Treponema pedis T A4 failed to induce ear necrosis in pigs

Karlsson, Frida; Rosander, Anna; Fellstrom, Claes; Backhans, Annette


Ear necrosis is a syndrome affecting pigs shortly after weaning and is regarded as an animal welfare issue. The etiology is unknown but Treponema spp., predominantly Treponema pedis, are commonly detected in the lesions. Oral treponemes have been suggested as source of infection, transferred by biting and licking behavior. In this study, five pigs were intradermally inoculated with Treponema pedis strain T A4 with the aim of investigating if this strain would induce ear lesions. Three pigs served as controls. The inoculation was repeated after 29 days, and the study continued for 56 days. Serum samples were collected throughout the study and analyzed by ELISA for IgG antibodies towards T. pedis T A4 lysate. Skin biopsies were taken from the inoculation area at the end of the study. Gingival samples were collected and cultivated for treponemes, for comparison to the inoculation strain and to follow colonisation. The challenged pigs did not develop any clinical signs of infection and no spirochetes were detected in sections from skin biopsies. The number of Treponema-positive gingival samples increased during the study. In the challenge group, IgG towards the bacterial lysate peaked 7 days after each inoculation and decreased rapidly hereafter. In the control group a weak IgG response was observed after the second inoculation, possibly caused by the oral treponemes.


Pig; Ear necrosis; Treponema; IgG; Experimental infection

Published in

Porcine Health Management
2017, Volume: 3, article number: 26
Publisher: BMC