Research Suggests Ear Tip Necrosis Caused by Infectious Agent

Farmscape for December 23, 2021

Full Interview 11:01 Listen

Research conducted by the Western College of Veterinary Medicine indicates ear tip necrosis has an infectious cause. Ear tip necrosis typically affects pigs after weaning where the tip of the ear turns necrotic leading to partial or complete loss of the ear. Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine have been investigating the potential causes of the condition. Dr. Matheus Costa, an Assistant Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and an adjunct professor with Utrecht University, says the first step was to determine whether it has an infectious cause.

Clip-Dr. Matheus Costa-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
We were able to partially induce ear tip necrosis in pigs. When I say partially induce, we developed a model where we could actually observe lesions in the pigs’ ears. It was partial because we did not see the full-blown ear tip necrosis where the ear cartilage is completely gone. We did see ear tip necrosis. At the tip of the ear where we inoculated the pigs, they start losing tissue there but it did not progress to a severe disease like we observed in the barn. That being said, we were able to establish that this disease does seem to have an infectious perspective, so an infectious cause. It may not be the only factor or the only cause. It may be a combination of factors where an infectious agent contributes to 50 percent of the lesions and then there’s another factor that would contribute to the severity of the lesions. It’s unclear. We can definitely induce scores one and two, so the initial lesions where there’s partial necrosis of the ear tip in the lab.Dr. Costa says no evidence of viruses was found in the lesions suggesting this is not a viral disease but rather is at least partially a bacterial disease. He says researchers are examining various bacterial agents in hopes of identifying a cause and ultimately developing prevention or control measures.

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