Research Conducted by WCVM Expected to Lead to New Treatments and Preventions for Ear Tip Necrosis

Apr 01, 2024

Research conducted by the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is shedding new light on the cause and on possible prevention and treatment options for ear tip necrosis.

Ear tip necrosis is a condition were the tip of the ear turns necrotic leading to partial or complete loss of the ear.In response to increased reports in western Canada of ear tip necrosis, researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine have been investigating the cause of the condition as part of an effort to develop effective preventions and/or treatments.

Dr. Matheus Costa, an Assistant Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and an adjunct professor with Utrecht University, says every pig producing region in the world has reported ear tip necrosis.

Quote-Dr. Matheus Costa-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:

There are two main things we've learned from this study.One is that ear tip necrosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium so this puts us at an advantage compared to where we were one to two years ago.Now we know that this is not caused by a mycotoxin, this is not just simply the environment.

There is an agent and this agent is a bacterium, and also, we know that this bacterium is not coming from a systemic infection.This bacterium is coming from outside in.This bacterium is introduced to the skin and when the skin barrier is broken, for example if a pig chews on the other pig's ear, that inoculates that ear and virtually all pigs carry this bacterium that can cause ear tip necrosis so, the moment they chew on that ear and break the skin, they inoculate that pig with the bacterium that causes ear tip necrosis and that's how we perceive ear tip necrosis to develop right now.

Dr. Costa suggests this new information is a potential game changer.He says we now know this condition is caused by a bacterium that can hopefully be treated by antibiotic therapy or even be prevented by vaccination and pork producers can stop investing in treatments that will not control ear tip necrosis.

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