The objective of this study was to determine whether a strain of Chlamydia suis shown previously to be an intestinal pathogen in gnotobiotic piglets could cause diarrhea and intestinal lesions in young weanling pigs. Pigs from 2 sows were randomly assigned to 2 groups. Group 1 included 13 pigs that were weaned at 24 hours of age and then housed in isolator units and fed milk replacer and unmedicated starter ration. Group 2 included 8 pigs that nursed their respective sows, consumed unmedicated starter ration, and were weaned at 21 days of age. Ten pigs in group 1 and 6 pigs in group 2 were inoculated orally with 4 X 108 inclusion-forming units of C. suis strain R27 at 21 days of age. Control pigs were inoculated with sham inoculum. The pigs were necropsied 5-14 days postinoculation (DPI). None of the Chlamydia-infected pigs developed diarrhea. Villus atrophy was seen histologically in sections of ileum from Chlamydia-infected pigs in both groups 5 and 7 days DPI. Lymphangitis and multiple lymphohistiocytic and neutrophilic aggregates were seen in the submucosa, tunica muscularis, and serosa of the distal jejunum, ileum, and colon from Chlamydia-infected pigs in both groups 5-14 DPI. Immunostaining of sections of distal jejunum, ileum, and colon from infected pigs revealed chlamydial antigen in intestinal epithelium and in foci of lymphangitis/inflammation. The results indicated that C. suis strain R27 can cause intestinal lesions in young weanling pigs, and the lesions are similar to those seen in gnotobiotic piglets. The results also indicated that strain R27 causes asymptomatic intestinal infections in young weanling pigs, at least under the conditions of this study.
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