F4+ Escherichia coli is an important agent of post-weaning diarrhoea in piglets. Piglets that express an adhesion site for F4+ E. coli in their small intestine (F4R+) shed higher numbers of F4+ E. coli than piglets lacking this site (F4R−). We hypothesized that F4R+ piglets are more infectious and more susceptible for F4+ E. coli. This implies that in populations with F4R+ and F4R− piglets, the transmission would be dependent on the frequency of both types of animals. To quantify the difference in infectiousness and susceptibility, a one-to-one transmission experiment was performed with 20 pairs consisting of one inoculated and one contact piglet. Based on the contact infections observed, transmission parameters were estimated with generalized linear models. F4R+ piglets were infectious for other piglets and the reproduction ratio (R0) for homogeneous F4R+ populations, that is the average number of secondary infections that one F4R+ pig will cause during its entire infectious period in a population of susceptible F4R+ individuals only, was estimated as 7·1. F4R+ piglets were more susceptible than F4R− piglets and reducing the fraction of F4R+ piglets of a population will reduce transmission. It was calculated that in order to prevent major outbreaks of F4+ E. coli (R0<1), the fraction of F4R+ piglets must be lower than 0·14.
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