Use of processing fluids and serum samples to characterize PRRSv dynamics in 3 day-old pigs

This new publication in Veterinary Microbiology describes the best methodology to monitor 3-day-old piglets for PRRS, using both serum and processing fluid samples. The first author of the publication is Dr. Carles Vilalta, member of the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Program (MSHMP) team.

Key points

  • Processing fluids (PF) constitute a useful sample to detect PRRSV infections at processing.
  • PRRSV can circulate in the farm at a low prevalence, increasing the chances of a re-break.
  • Young parity female litters should be targeted for PRRSV detection.
  • Current practice to bleed 30 pigs could be underestimating PRRSV prevalence in the herd.
  • The decrease in sensitivity at the litter level can be compensated by sampling more litters to detect PRRSV at the herd level.

Methods

The study was conducted in a 6,000 sow farm with a PRRS stable status. Every 3 weeks, serum samples and processing fluids were collected from all piglets in 10 randomly chosen litters. This process was then repeated 8 times, meaning that the farm was monitored for a total of 24 weeks. All samples were tested via PCR. 3 samples with the lowest Ct value were tested by virus isolation and sequencing of the ORF5 gene was performed.

Results

10.6% of the piglets tested positive for PRRSv via serum PCR, representing 29.8% of the litters. The same number of litters tested positive via processing fluid PCR testing.

The percentage of processing fluid positive samples was significantly higher is parity 1 and 2 sows compared to parity 3 and older sows. Additionally, a significant association between parity and probability of detecting a positive pig was observed.

A significant higher proportion of positive serum samples was observed in males compared to females. A similar trend was obtained when comparing positive Ct values by gender with values from males being lower (i.e., higher viral load) than those from females.

ct value processing fluids versus serum samples PRRS
Cycle threshold (Ct) positive (≤35) and suspect (between >35 and 40) value distribution for serum (S, triangle) and processing fluid (P, circle) samples overtime (2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20 and 23 weeks post outbreak). Horizontal black lines indicate the mean Ct values for each week and sample type

Using a Ct value of 37, processing fluid samples had a Se and Sp of 87% (95% CI: 66%–97%) and 94% (95% CI: 85%–99%), respectively when compared with litter RT-PCR results obtained from individual serum samples. The total agreement between both tests was 92.2% and the positive and negative predictive values were 87% (95% CI: 66%–97%) and 94% (95% CI: 85%–99%), respectively. False negative processing fluids were identified in litters having 2 or less PRRSV positive piglets

The agreement between the PF and serum results was kappa = 0.81 (95% CI: 0.59–1.00). The difference in the proportion of positive samples between both types of sample was not statistically significant (McNemar test, p = 1).

Abstract:

Collection of serum samples of pigs at weaning to monitor for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) has become a common practice to determine PRRSV herd infection status. Diagnostic sensitivity of this practice is low in herds undergoing PRRSV elimination once prevalence of infection is near zero. Thus, the goal of this study was to characterize the dynamics of PRRSV infection in 3 day-old pigs overtime using serum and serosanguineous fluids obtained as part of castration and tail docking practices (processing fluids (PF)). Secondary goal was to estimate sensitivity and specificity of PF in the 3 day old population. A 6000 breed-to-wean sow herd was monitored every three weeks for 23 weeks after a PRRSV outbreak by collecting both PF and individual serum samples from all pigs in the selected litters. Out of the 77 litters tested, 23 (29.8%) were identified as positive using the PF and the serum samples, with a Cohen’s kappa statistic of 0.81 (95% CI: 0.59–1) between the results obtained in each sample type. The sensitivity and specificity of the PF relative to the results in serum was 87% (95% CI: 66%–97%) and 94% (95% CI: 85%–99%) respectively. The percentage of PRRSV positive litters decreased over time and litters from gilts were more likely to test positive than those from older sows. Overall, the study demonstrates that PF can be a convenient and reliable specimen to monitor PRRSV infection in breeding herds.

Follow the link to read the entire article.

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