E. coli and Clostridium perfringens type C are major pathogens in sucking piglets and a threat to almost all farms. The negative impact on the economic performance is very high due to high mortality. For the owner and workers, large-scale outbreaks can be very distressing. Vaccination strategies are focused on protecting young and older suckling piglets against the negative impact of E. coli and Clostridium perfringens type C.

Because of the (per) acute course of diarrhoea in suckling piglets the use of effective antibiotics is often too late. For bactericidal antibiotics there is a risk of release of the bacterial toxins following bacterial decomposition resulting in massive levels in the piglet. For this reason a proactive approach is of particular importance. Vaccination of the sow for passive immunisation of the piglets via colostral antibodies is a proven method. The basis for prevention of colibacillosis and necrotic enteritis is vaccination of sows to help enrich the colostrum with protective antibodies. The piglets absorb protective colostral antibodies against these aggressive pathogens, increasing their passive immunity. Earlier sow vaccines only provided protection for the first few days of the sucking piglet’s life, and no protection against the pathogenic F-18 E. coli. Colibacillosis around weaning could not be prevented by sow vaccination. Innovative vaccination strategies are aimed at extending protection against E. coli and Clostridium perfringens type C. Researchers are working to close the gap in protection between the first days of life and weaning, to cover all risk phases of a sucking piglet.

Besides correct use of the vaccine, it is also important to look at other factors. The prophylaxis comes from three basic components:

Prophylaxis = sow vaccination + colostrum management + hygiene