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Summary

Information about the proportion of truly Salmonella-free herds is required for an evaluation of the epidemiological situation, the development of control strategies and their implementation. Findings regarding the presence of salmonellas in faeces and intestinal lymph nodes as well as the presence of Salmonella antibodies in meat juice from slaughtered pigs were obtained in the context of a study conducted by a number of institutes. These data were used for an analysis of the validity of data on the prevalence of infected animals within herds and on the prevalence of infected herds. The proportion of batches or herds with exclusively negative individual findings was found to depend not only on the true proportion of truly Salmonella-free animals within herds but quite essentially also on the distribution of the proportion of infected animals within herds, the sensitivity of the methods of examination and sample sizes. When taking into account the existing dependencies, it was found that among the swine, the real numbers of Salmonella carriers were much higher than shown by bacteriological and serological examination. Regarding salmonellosis in swine, also a number of contaminated herds must be expected which is far higher than that shown by the number of herds with positive findings in at least one animal. Even a low contamination of all or almost all herds would result in the numbers of ‘negative’ batches observed, i.e. batches with exclusively negative individual findings. A rating of the salmonella exposure of herds as high, low, or very low is possible and may, and should be, used for measures of consumer protection, irrespective of the proportion of truly Salmonella-free herds.