Project: Erysipelas ? an emerging disease in animal friendly production systems for poultry and pigs

Erysipelas is a severe infectious disease caused by the bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae (ER). Following the change in housing for laying hens in Europe, erysipelas has become an emerging disease in several countries with outbreaks of high mortality in layer flocks in indoor aviaries and free-range/organic production. Erysipelas is a well-known acute disease in pigs and a suspected cause of arthritis and considerable economic losses in organic pigs. Erysipelas is difficult to prevent in the growing sector of animal friendly production systems for pigs and poultry. Moreover, ER infections constitute an occupational hazard for humans (zoonosis). Although a well-known disease, vital basic knowledge particularly on the infection in chickens, is lacking. Hence, in this research proposal (EryPoP) the epidemiology, infection dynamics and immunity development in poultry and pigs will be addressed in the field and by experimental infections through a multi-disciplinary and transnational approach and cooperation. EryPop has five main subtasks: to define transmission routes of ER by use of molecular epidemiology, to identify risk factors for outbreaks; to define the role of wild boars as potential reservoirs and sources of infection; to establish an assay to detect antibodies to ER in chicken; and to study the pathogenesis and immune responses to ER infections in chickens. Samples and metadata for analysis will be collected from poultry, domestic pigs and wild boars in Sweden and Italy. ER isolates will be analysed by Next-Generation-Sequencing technologies and bioinformatics. Using available ER sequences and those provided within the project and shotgun phage display technology, ER antigens will be identified and used for a novel ELISA test to detect chicken ER antibodies. This assay will be an invaluable tool within the project as well as a future diagnostic tool in the field. A model for experimental ER infections in chickens will be established and used in studies of chicken immune responses to ER in naïve and vaccinated birds. These studies will provide information that will be vital in development of diagnostic methods and improvement of future prophylactic measures such as vaccines. Taken together, EryPoP will provide novel information that will enable scientifically based guidelines on prophylactic measures to prevent future erysipelas outbreaks and secure animal welfare in the growing animal friendly poultry and pig production.

Acronym EryPoP
Website visit project website
Network ANIHWA
Call 3rd ANIHWA Joint Call

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Partner Sweden
Swedish National Veterinary Institute Coordinator Sweden
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna Partner Italy
Aarhus University Partner Denmark