WCVM Explores Cause of Ear Tip Necrosis

Farmscape for November 1, 2021

Full Interview 14:23 Listen

Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine are confident that, by identifying the agents responsible for the development of ear tip necrosis, veterinarians be better able to prevent and treat the condition. Ear tip necrosis is a condition were the tip of the ear turns necrotic leading to partial or complete loss of the ear. Using samples collected from infected pigs, researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine have been able to replicate the initial lesions under a controlled environment for the first time.
Dr. Matheus Costa, an Assistant Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and an adjunct professor with Utrecht University, says while there have been multiple theories, the cause remains unknown.

Clip-Dr. Matheus Costa-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
We hope that by the end of this project we are at least going to have identified or shown that our hypothesis was correct and ear tip necrosis is in fact an infectious disease. If we are lucky, we may be able to identify one or two or multiple agents that are truly associated with the initial lesion. If we’re able to do that then that will open a huge avenue for veterinarians to start treating and preventing the disease in commercial swine farms. I believe it will really change the way we look at the disease and the way we deal with it. Right now, we kind of try a bit of everything, so improved environment, changed diet, improved general health but, if we can pinpoint a few triggers that are truly important and that will actually prevent the initial lesions, we should be able to help veterinarians out there in the field and producers to at least mitigate a bit of the losses and reduce the incidence and reduce the development of ear tip necrosis in their herds.

Dr. Costa says researchers are excited about that prospect but they’re just not there yet.

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