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Individual risk factors for Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infections in suckling pigs at the age of weaning

Heiko Nathues13*, Stefanie Doehring1, Henrike Woeste1, Anna S Fahrion2, Marcus G Doherr2 and Elisabeth grosse Beilage1

Author Affiliations

1 Field Station for Epidemiology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Buescheler Street 9, Bakum,, D-49456, Germany

2 Veterinary Public Health Institute, Department of Clinical Research - Veterinary Public Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Schwarzenburgstrasse 155, Liebefeld (BE), CH-3097, Switzerland

3 Department of Production and Population Health, Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 7TA, United Kingdom

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2013, 55:44  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-55-44

Published: 3 June 2013



In recent years, the occurrence and the relevance of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infections in suckling pigs has been examined in several studies. Whereas most of these studies were focused on sole prevalence estimation within different age groups, follow-up of infected piglets or assessment of pathological findings, none of the studies included a detailed analysis of individual and environmental risk factors. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the frequency of M. hyopneumoniae infections in suckling pigs of endemically infected herds and to identify individual risk factors potentially influencing the infection status of suckling pigs at the age of weaning.


The animal level prevalence of M. hyopneumoniae infections in suckling pigs examined in three conventional pig breeding herds was 3.6% (41/1127) at the time of weaning. A prevalence of 1.2% was found in the same pigs at the end of their nursery period. In a multivariable Poisson regression model it was found that incidence rate ratios (IRR) for suckling pigs are significantly lower than 1 when teeth grinding was conducted (IRR: 0.10). Moreover, high temperatures in the piglet nest during the first two weeks of life (occasionally >40°C) were associated with a decrease of the probability of an infection (IRR: 0.23-0.40). Contrary, the application of PCV2 vaccines to piglets was associated with an increased infection risk (IRR: 9.72).


Since single infected piglets are supposed to act as initiators for the transmission of this pathogen in nursery and fattening pigs, the elimination of the risk factors described in this study should help to reduce the incidence rate of M. hyopneumoniae infections and thereby might contribute to a reduced probability of high prevalences in older pigs.

Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae; Enzootic pneumonia; Suckling pig; Epidemiology; Risk factor analysis