Low concentration of serum immunoglobulin G is associated with pre-weaning diarrhea in young mink kits (Neovison vison)

Ronja Mathiesen*, Mariann Chriél, Tina Struve, Peter Mikael Helweg Heegaard

*Corresponding author for this work

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Pre-weaning diarrhea (PWD) is a severe syndrome, with world-wide occurrence, affecting farmed mink (Neovison vison) kits during the lactation period. Kits affected by PWD often display clinical signs such as: yellow-white diarrhea, greasy skin, and dehydration. In severe cases the kits eventually die. It is common practice to treat PWD using antimicrobials; however the effect is not well documented. Due to the multifactorial etiology of PWD vaccine development is not feasible. The role played by the immune status of the mink kits with respect to their susceptibility to PWD is not well studied. To elucidate the possible association between PWD and total IgG serum concentration in young kits we analyzed blood collected from kits from 100 litters on two mink farms during the same breeding period, one farm being a case farm with high prevalence of PWD, and the other being a control farm with no cases of PWD. Kits affected by PWD had a significantly reduced weight gain compared to unaffected control kits. Litters born later in the breeding period came down with PWD at an earlier age than litters born at the start of the breeding period. We found that PWD affected kits had significantly lower concentrations of serum IgG compared to unaffected kits at 13-15 days of age (the last blood sampling point of the study). The results in this study suggest that PWD affected kits less efficiently absorbed IgG from maternal milk or had a lower intake of maternal milk, potentially contributing to the exacerbation of disease. A lower intake of IgG and/or less absorption from maternal milk could also pre-dispose kits for PWD. Future studies will be needed to elucidate if the circulating level of IgG is directly related to protection against disease and to investigate if administration of IgG could be helpful in alleviating and/or preventing PWD in mink kits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalActa Veterinaria Scandinavica
Issue number1
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Mink kits
  • Neovison vison
  • Pre-weaning diarrhea

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