Newly Discovered Bacterium in Pigs May be
More Widespread Than Thought
By Linda Cooke
March 6, 1997
A newly discovered bacterium that causes severe diarrhea in pigs may be more
widespread than previously thought by farmers and veterinarians.
Scientists with USDAs
Agricultural Research Service discovered
and named the new bacterium Serpulina pilosicoli--little serpent
of the hairy colon. Now theyve developed a test that checks the
DNA--genetic material--of the new disease-causing bacterium to distinguish
between it and other similar bacteria and help gauge just how widespread S.
pilosicoli has become.
S. pilosicoli is related to S. hyodysenteriae, the cause of
swine dysentery that costs pig producers about $100 million annually. Although
the diarrhea being reported in Iowa doesnt look like swine dysentery,
which produces a bloody stool, it still weakens pigs and slows their growth,
cutting into producers profits.
The February issue of Agricultural Research, the
monthly publication of the Agricultural Research Service, contains a report on
the ARS work on unmasking and naming the new bacterium. This and other magazine
stories are available in PDF format via the World Wide Web. The web site for
the magazine is:
Scientific contact: Thad B. Stanton, USDA-ARS,
National Animal Disease Center,
Ames, Iowa 50010, phone (515) 239-8495, e-mail