North American swine rotaviruses: a complex epidemiology

A scientific paper published today in PLOS ONE reveals that based on three-level mixed-effects logistic regression models, the epidemiology of swine rotaviruses in North America is quite complex. The goal of the study led by Drs. Homwong, Perez, Rossow, and Marthaler from the University of Minnesota was to investigate the associations among age, rotavirus detection, and regions within the US swine production in samples submitted for diagnosis to the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.


Percentages of Rotavirus A (RVA), Rotavirus B (RVB), and Rotavirus C (RVC) samples by state.
The color represented highest prevalence of the RV species (green represents RVA, purple represents RVB, blue represents RVC while pink represents equal percentages of RVA and RVC

Abstract: Rotaviruses (RV) are important causes of diarrhea in animals, especially in domestic animals. Of the 9 RV species, rotavirus A, B, and C (RVA, RVB, and RVC, respectively) had been established as important causes of diarrhea in pigs. The Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory receives swine stool samples from North America to determine the etiologic agents of disease. Between November 2009 and October 2011, 7,508 samples from pigs with diarrhea were submitted to determine if enteric pathogens, including RV, were present in the samples. All samples were tested for RVA, RVB, and RVC by real time RT-PCR. The majority of the samples (82%) were positive for RVA, RVB, and/or RVC. To better understand the risk factors associated with RV infections in swine diagnostic samples, three-level mixed-effects logistic regression models (3L-MLMs) were used to estimate associations among RV species, age, and geographical variability within the major swine production regions in North America. The conditional odds ratios (cORs) for RVA and RVB detection were lower for 1–3 day old pigs when compared to any other age group. However, the cOR of RVC detection in 1–3 day old pigs was significantly higher (p < 0.001) than pigs in the 4–20 days old and >55 day old age groups. Furthermore, pigs in the 21–55 day old age group had statistically higher cORs of RV co-detection compared to 1–3 day old pigs (p < 0.001). The 3L-MLMs indicated that RV status was more similar within states than among states or within each region. Our results indicated that 3L-MLMs are a powerful and adaptable tool to handle and analyze large-hierarchical datasets. In addition, our results indicated that, overall, swine RV epidemiology is complex, and RV species are associated with different age groups and vary by regions in North America.

Link to the full article

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