Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is the principal aetiological agent of enzootic pneumonia (EP), a chronic respiratory disease that affects mainly finishing pigs. Although major efforts to control M. hyopneumoniae infection and its detrimental effects have been made, significant economic losses in pig production worldwide due to EP continue. M. hyopneumoniae is typically introduced into pig herds by the purchase of subclinically infected animals or, less frequently, through airborne transmission over short distances. Once in the herd, M. hyopneumoniae may be transmitted by direct contact from infected sows to their offspring or between pen mates. The 'gold standard' technique used to diagnose M. hyopneumoniae infection, bacteriological culture, is laborious and is seldom used routinely. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and polymerase chain reaction detection methods, in addition to post-mortem inspection in the form of abattoir surveillance or field necropsy, are the techniques most frequently used to investigate the potential involvement of M. hyopneumoniae in porcine respiratory disease. Such techniques have been used to monitor the incidence of M. hyopneumoniae infection in herds both clinically and subclinically affected by EP, in vaccinated and non-vaccinated herds and under different production and management conditions. Differences in the clinical course of EP at farm level and in the efficacy of M. hyopneumoniae vaccination suggest that the transmission and virulence characteristics of different field isolates of M. hyopneumoniae may vary. This paper reviews the current state of knowledge of the epidemiology of M. hyopneumoniae infection including its transmission, infection and seroconversion dynamics and also compares the various epidemiological tools used to monitor EP.
- Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae