Defining parameters to develop epidemiological models of a Foot and Mouth Disease incursion: meta-analysis of the disease biology


Models are primordial to develop the best control and eradication measures as well as to decrease response time in the event of a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) incursion on US soil. However, to be as representative of real-life situation as possible, these models need the most accurate information on disease biology. This scientific article, written by a U of M team of epidemiologists: Drs. Kinsley, Patterson, VanderWaal, Craft, and Perez, is a meta-analysis of the peer-reviewed literature defining what the exact values for the duration of various disease periods such as: latency, incubation and sub-clinical phases are. The total duration of infection is also examined.

Time course of a FMD infection in pigs infected through contact with an inoculated pig.

Abstract: In the event of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) incursion, response strategies are required to control, contain, and eradicate the pathogen as efficiently as possible. Infectious disease simulation models are widely used tools that mimic disease dispersion in a population and that can be useful in the design and support of prevention and mitigation activities. However, there are often gaps in evidence-based research to supply models with quantities that are necessary to accurately reflect the system of interest. The objective of this study was to quantify values associated with the duration of the stages of FMD infection (latent period, subclinical period, incubation period, and duration of infection), probability of transmission (within-herd and between-herd via spatial spread), and diagnosis of a vesicular disease within a herd using a meta-analysis of the peer-reviewed literature and expert opinion. The latent period ranged from 1 to 7 days and incubation period ranged from 1 to 9 days; both were influenced by strain. In contrast, the subclinical period ranged from 0 to 6 days and was influenced by sampling method only. The duration of infection ranged from 1 to 10 days. The probability of spatial spread between an infected and fully susceptible swine farm was estimated as greatest within 5 km of the infected farm, highlighting the importance of possible long-range transmission through the movement of infected animals. Finally, while most swine practitioners are confident in their ability to detect a vesicular disease in an average sized swine herd, a small proportion expect that up to half of the herd would need to show clinical signs before detection via passive surveillance would occur. The results of this study will be useful in within- and between-herd simulation models to develop efficient response strategies in the event an FMD in swine populations of disease-free countries or regions.

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Confirmed detection of a new porcine circovirus: introducing PCV3

This past Friday, the Virology journal published a short report confirming the detection of a new porcine circovirus named PCV3. The virus was identified by a team of  diagnosticians and researchers from the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the U of M in collaboration with the Blood Systems Research Institute and the Department of Laboratory Medicine in San Fransisco.

The pigs, gathered from three different cases, which expressed cardiac pathology and lesions of systemic inflammation tested negative for PCV2 by PCR. The article also reports the complete genetic sequences of the viruses and illustrates how different their proteins  are from PCV2 and PCV1 ones in a phylogenetic tree.


Porcine circovirus 2 causes different clinical syndromes resulting in a significant economic loss in the pork industry. Three pigs with unexplained cardiac and multi-organ inflammation that tested negative for PCV2 and other known porcine pathogens were further analyzed.
Histology was used to identify microscopic lesions in multiple tissues. Metagenomics was used to detect viral sequences in tissue homogenates. In situ hybridization was used to detect viral RNA expression in cardiac tissue.
In all three cases we characterized the genome of a new circovirus we called PCV3 with a replicase and capsid proteins showing 55 and 35 % identities to the genetically-closest proteins from a bat-feces associated circovirus and were even more distant to those of porcine circovirus 1 and 2. Common microscopic lesions included non-suppurative myocarditis and/or cardiac arteriolitis. Viral mRNA was detected intralesionally in cardiac cells. Deep sequencing in tissues also revealed the presence of porcine astrovirus 4 in all three animals as well as rotavirus A, porcine cytomegalovirus and porcine hemagglutinating encephalomyelitis virus in individual cases.
The pathogenicity and molecular epidemiology of this new circovirus, alone or in the context of co-infections, warrants further investigations.

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Which air sampler to detect swine airborne viruses?

This is the question that Drs. Carmen Alonso, Sagar Goyal, Peter Davies, and Montse Torremorell from the College of Veterinary Medicine studied in collaboration with Drs. Bernard Olson and Peter Raynor from the College of Science and Engineering and the School of Public Health respectively,  in the following paper published in Aerosol Science and Technology this past month.

In this study, the team form the University of Minnesota compared the capacity of two different air samplers to detect PRRSv and SIV in an experimental setting. The challenge to detect viral aerosol is to find a technique capable of capturing small amount of virus in a large amount of air. This experiment found that the particle size, the media used for collection as well as the extraction technique (passive or active) all had a significant effect on the detection of the viruses.


Abstract: Detection and quantification of dilute viral aerosols, as encountered outside animal housing facilities, requires methods that are able to detect small numbers of viruses in large volumes of air. This study compared the performance of two size-differentiating cascade impactors; an Andersen 8-stage (ACI; 28.3 L/min) and a high volume Tisch (TCI; 1,133 L/min) to assess sampling efficiency for detecting porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and influenza A virus (IAV). Samples of particles sorted by aerodynamic diameter were analyzed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and collection efficiency was assessed by particle size. Collection media (minimum essential medium [MEM] and beef extract [BE]), elution technique (active versus passive), and sampling times (10, 20, and 30 min) were variables assessed for the TCI sampler. Extraction efficiency was 35% higher with BE as compared to that of MEM (p = 0.0007); active extraction technique was 19% more efficient than the passive technique (p = 0.03); time of sampling did not significantly affect the amount of virus recovered. The ACI sampler was more efficient in detecting both viruses from small and medium sized airborne particles (≤3 μm) as compared to the TCI sampler (p < 0.001). The latter sampler, however, was more efficient at IAV detection from large airborne particles (>3 μm) (p = 0.0025) indicating the potential of this sampler in detecting the presence of small amounts of viruses in aerosols under field conditions.

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Investigation of Senecavirus A pathogenesis in finishing pigs

Dr. Fabio Vannucci, a University of Minnesota swine pathologist and his graduate student Dr. Talita Resende collaborated with a team from South Dakota State University to study the pathogenesis of Senecavirus A in finishing pigs. The results of their experiments were published online a few weeks ago in the Journal of General Virology and the printed version should be following shortly.

The importance of Senecavirus A in swine production resides in a striking resemblance in clinical signs with Food and Mouth Disease. Indeed, Senecavirus A causes vesicular lesions around the mouth and on the feet of pigs.

The collaborative work showed that Senecavirus A viremia occurred between 3 to 10 days post-inoculation (dpi), and that the neutralizing antibody response started 5 dpi. Clinical signs first observed 4dpi, lasted up to 10 days.
This study advances our understanding of Senecavirus A pathogenesis to hopefully be able to better manage it in the future.


Abstract: Senecavirus A (SVA) is an emerging picornavirus that has been recently associated with vesicular disease and neonatal mortality in swine. Many aspects of SVA infection biology and pathogenesis, however, remain unknown. Here the pathogenesis of SVA was investigated in finishing pigs. Animals were inoculated via the oronasal route with a contemporary SVA strain SD15-26 and monitored for clinical signs and lesions associated with SVA infection. Viremia was assessed in serum and virus shedding monitored in oral and nasal secretions and feces by real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-qPCR) and/or virus isolation. Additionally, viral load and tissue distribution were assessed during acute infection and following convalescence from disease. Clinical signs characterized by lethargy and lameness were first observed on day 4 pi and persisted for ~2-10 days. Vesicular lesions were observed on the snout and feet, affecting the coronary bands, dewclaws, interdigital space and heel/sole of SVA-infected animals. A short-term viremia was detected between days 3-10 post-inoculation (pi), whereas virus shedding was detected between days 1-28 pi in oral and nasal secretions and feces. Notably, RT-qPCR and in situ hybridization (ISH) performed on tissues collected on day 38 pi revealed the presence of SVA RNA in the tonsil of all SVA infected animals. Serological responses to SVA were characterized by early neutralizing antibody responses (5 days pi), which coincided with a progressive decrease in the levels of viremia, virus shedding and viral load in tissues. This study provides significant insights on the pathogenesis and infectious dynamics of SVA in swine.

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Airborne transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza during the 2015 outbreak in the Midwest

In 2015, the Midwestern part of the United States was the theater of an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza. Drs. Torremorell, Alonso and Davies from the University of Minnesota were involved during the epidemic and just published in Avian Diseases and their findings concerning the airborne transmission of the virus were just published in Avian Diseases.

The study showed that the air exhausted from an infected poultry facility was a source of contamination for the environment but also a risk of transmission for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that needs to be seriously taken into consideration. Indeed, live and infectious virus was found at a distance up to 70m (76.5 yards) from the farm facilities.


Abstract: We investigated the plausibility of aerosol transmission of H5N2 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus during the 2015 spring outbreaks that occurred in the U.S. midwest. Air samples were collected inside and outside of infected turkey and layer facilities. Samples were tested to assess HPAI virus concentration (RNA copies/m3 of air), virus viability, and virus distribution by particle size. HPAI virus RNA was detected inside and up to 1000 m from infected facilities. HPAI virus was isolated from air samples collected inside, immediately outside, up to 70 m from infected facilities, and in aerosol particles larger than 2.1 lm. Direct exposure to exhausted aerosols proved to be a significant source of environmental contamination. These findings demonstrate HPAI virus aerosolization from infected flocks, and that both the transport of infectious aerosolized particles and the deposition of particles on surfaces around infected premises represent a potential risk for the spread of HPAI.

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