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Intestinal spirochaetes challenge the boundaries: Findings from the Australian Reference Centre for Intestinal Spirochaetal Infections

Hampson, D.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-7729-0427 (1997) Intestinal spirochaetes challenge the boundaries: Findings from the Australian Reference Centre for Intestinal Spirochaetal Infections. In: Challenging the boundaries: Australian Association of Pig Veterinarians, 5 - 7 May, Brisbane, QLD, Australia pp. 71-74.

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The Reference Centre for Intestinal Spirochaetal Infections, located in the School of Veterinary Studies at Murdoch University, was established in 1990. Since that time the Centre has received financial support from the Pig Research and Development Corporation to fulfil two broad aims. Firstly, it acts as a specialised laboratory that has the capacity to isolate, identify and type intestinal spirochaetes as a direct supporting service to the Australian Pig Industry, acting through Pig Veterinarians and Regional Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories. Initially work focused on Serpulina hyodysenteriae, the agent of swine dysentery, but more recently has increased to include the new species Serpulina pilosicoli, the agent of porcine intestinal spirochaetosis. The availability of this service assists with diagnosis, and ultimately control of these economically important infections. Intestinal spirochaetes are fastidious, and the Centre supplies the specialised facilities and expertise needed to work with them. Results from the laboratory are collated to give an ongoing and comparative overview of the diseases and their associated organisms in Australia. This is an important monitoring role. The laboratory now houses a large and unique collection of intestinal spirochaetes, representing an important resource nationally and internationally.

The second major aim of the Centre, and that requiring most time and resources, is to conduct research on improved methods for diagnosis, typing and control of porcine intestinal spirochaetal infections. The results of this work are fed back to improve the efficiency of the diagnostic laboratory, to improve understanding of the epidemiology of the infections, and to increase options for control. An important byproduct of this work has been the training of a group of outstanding postgraduate students, who will undoubtedly continue to make considerable contributions to research in the longer term.

In the spirit of the AVA Conference where this paper is presented - "Challenging the boundaries" - in the rest of this article I will outline areas where work from the Reference Centre has done just that. Two major new paradigms have been established by our work: these relate to the use of diet to control swine dysentery, and the role of intestinal spirochaetes other than S. hyodysenteriae in the aetology of disease in pigs. The development of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) protocols at the Centre, and improved methods for typing S. hyodysenteriae and S. pilosicoli isolates will also be summarised because of their potential importance and relevance to Australian Pig Veterinarians dealing with diseases caused by intestinal spirochaetes.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
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