Dr. Wantanee Kalpravidh received the Distinguished Research Alumnus Award

The 2017 Points of Pride Research Day was held earlier this month and the swine group was well represented. Among the awardees, Dr. Montse Torremorell received the highest research reward at the College level: the Zoetis Award for Research Excellence for her impressive work on swine influenza, PRRSV and biosecurity approaches to mitigate pathogen transmission. Additionally, Dr. Bob Morrison, who passed away earlier this year, was recognized for the impact of his entire career with the Mark of Excellence Award.

Wantanee_distinguished alumnus
From left to the right: Dean Trevor Ames, Dr. Wantanee Kalpravidh, Dr. Sriram Rao, and Dr. Peter Davies

The distinguished Research Alumnus Award was given to Dr. Wantanee Kalpravidh in recognition of her work and research efforts. Dr Kalpravidh graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1993 when she completed after only 2 years, her PhD in Veterinary Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Bob Morrison. Dr. Kalpravidh then returned to her home country of Thailand where she began her career with the Division of Disease Control at the Thailand Department of Livestock Development. Her work in coordinating disease control efforts crossed national borders and she is now the Regional Manager for the Asia-Pacific region at the Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD) in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Before starting her seminar, Dr. Wantanee Kalpravidh thanked the two groups of people without whom she believes she would not have had such a successful career : her family and more particularly her father who kept telling her to keep dreaming and her mentors, among them Dr. Morrison.

IMG_2930
The 44 countries in the Asia-Pacific region for which Dr. Wantanee Kalpravidh coordinates efforts in disease control.

The area under her supervision is impressive: 44 countries of the Asia-Pacific region in which she coordinates the efforts to deliver veterinary assistance to countries responding to the threat of transboundary animal health crises. Some of the diseases and areas she has had to focus on in the past are: Foot and Mouth Disease, PRRSV and other swine infectious diseases, Antimicrobial Resistance, zoonotic Influenza, and zoonotic Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Wantanee Kalpravidh made hers the FAO mission of collaboration and capacity building with the countries, applied epidemiology and implementation of laboratory diagnosis.

A recent example of her work was her implication in the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza epidemic in Vietnam and her evaluation of the feasibility of a poultry vaccination campaign.

To paraphrase Dr. Davies’ words: “There is no-one more deserving of this award than Wantanee and we are very proud of how she used her PhD.”

A constellation of strains co-circulate in pigs during influenza epidemics

This recent publication in Nature comes from the Torremorell’s lab and aims at answering the question of the number of strains circulating in pigs during an influenza outbreak and how genetically different they may be. The full article is available in open access, click on the banner below to access it.

Constellation influenza banner Torremorell

To answer the question of multiple strains of influenza in pigs, the group followed a cohort of 132 pigs placed in a 2,200-head a wean-to-finish barn, endemic for influenza. All the pigs originated from the same sow farm . The history of past influenza episodes did not include any information regarding the strain of viruses circulating in the barn. Nasal swabs were collected for each individual pig and were tested in the laboratory by PCR.

Results from this study showed that:

  • Only 2 pigs out of 132 tested negative every week during the entire duration of the study.
  • Around 88% of the pigs tested positive for influenza more than once.
  • 20.5% of pigs were positive for influenza at weaning.
  • Weekly influenza prevalence ranged between 0% and 65%.
  • 3 different viral groups were identified VG1, VG2, and VG3.
  • Groups belonged to the swine H1-gamma, H1-beta and H3-cluster-IV influenza A respectively. (Here is a review of the H1 genetic clades and one of the H3 genotype patterns)

The figure below shows the genetic make up of the influenza strains isolated each week, the viral group each genetic segment belonged to and the number of times this specific combination was found.

For example, the second line can be interpreted as: during week one, one sample in which 10 sequences were recovered, had influenza virus with segments 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 belonging to the Viral Group 1 (H1 gamma) and segments 6 and 8 were from Viral groups 1 and 3.

Influenza constellation Torremorell

In conclusion, this study shows that influenza infections in pigs after weaning and under field conditions are complex. The influenza virus genome is diverse and changes rapidly. Prolonged persistence of influenza viruses in pigs could be the result of multiple influenza epidemic events that take place repeatedly over time or the re-infection with influenza viruses that are closely related to each other.

Abstract

Swine play a key role in the ecology and transmission of influenza A viruses (IAVs) between species. However, the epidemiology and diversity of swine IAVs is not completely understood. In this cohort study, we sampled on a weekly basis 132 3-week old pigs for 15 weeks. We found two overlapping epidemic events of infection in which most pigs (98.4%) tested PCR positive for IAVs. The prevalence rate of infection ranged between 0 and 86% per week and the incidence density ranged between 0 and 71 cases per 100 pigs-week. Three distinct influenza viral groups (VGs) replicating as a “swarm” of viruses were identified (swine H1-gamma, H1-beta, and H3-cluster-IV IAVs) and co-circulated at different proportions over time suggesting differential allele fitness. Furthermore, using deep genome sequencing 13 distinct viral genome constellations were differentiated. Moreover, 78% of the pigs had recurrent infections with IAVs closely related to each other or IAVs clearly distinct. Our results demonstrated the molecular complexity of swine IAVs during natural infection of pigs in which novel strains of IAVs with zoonotic and pandemic potential can emerge. These are key findings to design better health interventions to reduce the transmission of swine IAVs and minimize the public health risk.

Science Page: Use of processing fluids for PRRSV diagnostics

This is our Friday rubric: every week a new Science Page from the Bob Morrison’s Swine Health Monitoring Project. The previous editions of the science page are available on our website.

Key points

  • Using processing fluids as a diagnostic tool can help us to detect lower PRRS prevalence in the herd.
  • Testicles and tails should be collected in a pail as they are potential spreaders of PRRS in the farrowing room.
  • We should target young parity sows for PRRSV sampling.

Processing fluids PRRS table.gif

What are processing fluids?

In sow farms, piglets get processed during the first week of life. This means that their tails is docked and the males are castrated. The farmer usually collect tails and testicles in a pail to be discarded at a later time.

We propose to use the fluids accumulating at the bottom of the pail to assess the farm PRRSV status.

How did we test those fluids?

The fluids were tested for PRRSV by PCR and the results were compared to the gold standard for this diagnostic: PCR on serum. Sampling was set in a farm that just went through a PRRSV outbreak and 10 litters from various parity sows were selected each week for 8 weeks.

What were the results?

Processing fluids were efficient in detecting PRRSV even if there was only one piglet positive in the litter (determined with the serum samples). Compared to the serum tests, there were 4 false negative samples that were explained by the fact that the virus load in the piglets serums was low and the dilution effect of the processing fluids caused the samples to get negative results. We also found 4 false positive resutls that could be due to cross-contamination of the samples despite the extreme care with which the samples were handled.

Are processing fluids a worthwhile sample?

The agreement between processing fluids and serum results was good and the sensitivity and specificity of the technique was respectively of 83% and 92%. Additionally, this technique requires no further handling of the piglets or use of extra supplies to collect samples and submit them to the laboratory.

 

Longitudinal study of Senecavirus shedding and viremia in sows and piglets

How long do sows and piglets shed Senecavirus A after a clinical outbreak? How long is the viremia? Those are the questions answered in this case study of a Senecavirus A outbreak in one US farm.

Objective and Methods

Senecavirus A is a challenge for producers and veterinarians because of its clinical similarity to Food and Mouth Disease (FMD). In this study, 34 sows and 30 individual piglets from 15 different litters were sampled at day 1 post-outbreak and later at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9 weeks post-outbreak (PO). Serum, and tonsil, rectal, and vesicular swabs were collected for all of the pigs included in the study. The objective of the study was to explore the viremia and shedding patterns in those infected animals. All samples were submitted to the University of Minnesota, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to be tested by PCR.

longitudinal study of senecavirus figures Tousignant 2017.gif
Percentage of serum (a), tonsil swabs (b), and rectal swabs (c) positive for Senecavirus A. Clinical outbreak happened in sow farm 1 (S1) and piglets from sow farm 2 (S2) were mixed with piglets from S1 at weaning.

 

Results

Vesicular lesions were seen in sows only for 2 weeks and had the highest amount of virus. In sows, the detection of Senecavirus A in tonsil and rectal swabs was greater than 90% at 0 week PO and remained as high as 50% through 5 weeks PO. Generally, viremia was detected up to 1 week PO in sows but it is important to note that viremia was not detected in 11 out of 34 (32%) of the sows at any point during the study. Viremia was detected in 18 out of 30 (60%) and 19 out of 30 (63%) in the suckling piglets from site 1. Similar to sows, viremia was not detected in 9 out of 30 (30%) of the site 1 piglets enrolled in the study.

The detection of Senecavirus A in sows tonsil swabs peaked 1 week PO (94% positive) whereas it peaked at day 1 PO for piglets (83% positive). The detection of virus shedding decreased over time in sows and piglets, and a single sow and piglet tested positive at 9 weeks PO.

The peak of Senecavirus A detection from rectal swabs in sows (91%) occurred at day 1 PO and continued to steadily decrease and was not detected at 9 weeks PO. In site 1 piglets, the detection of SVA peaked at 1 week PO (90% positive). 64% of the rectal swabs were positive at 4 weeks PO in site 1 piglets. At 6 weeks PO, the detection of Senecavirus A was same for both site 1 and 2 piglets (11%); however, a single piglet from site 1 was still shedding SVA at 9 weeks PO.

Discussion

The study assessed the shedding pattern of SVA in sows and piglets during an outbreak on a farm in the US and investigated the spread of SVA between pigs during the post weaning period. Vesicular lesions were seen in sows only for 2 weeks and had the highest amount of virus. In sows, the detection of SVA in tonsil and rectal swabs was greater than 90% at 0 week PO and remained as high as 50% through 5 weeks PO, these sample types should be collected and submitted, in addition to vesicular lesion swabs and fluid (if present), as part of FAD investigations for the detection of SVA.

 

Click on the banner below to access the full article.

longitudinal study of senecavirus Tousignant 2017

Abstract

Background: The study highlights the shedding pattern of Senecavirus A (SVA) during an outbreak of vesicular disease in a sow farm from the South-central Minnesota, USA. In this study, 34 individual, mixed parity sows with clinical signs of vesicular lesions and 30 individual piglets from 15 individual litters from sows with vesicular lesions were conveniently selected for individual, longitudinal sampling. Serum, tonsil, rectal, and vesicular swabs were collected on day 1 post outbreak, and then again at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9 weeks post outbreak. Samples were tested at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for SVA via Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR)
Results: In sows, vesicular lesions had the highest concentration of SVA, but had the shortest duration of detection lasting only 2 weeks. Viremia was detected for 1 week post outbreak, and quickly declined thereafter. SVA was detected at approximately the same frequency for both tonsil and rectal swabs with the highest percentage of SVA positive samples detected in the first 6 weeks post outbreak. In suckling piglets, viremia quickly declined 1 week post outbreak and was prevalent in low levels during the first week after weaning (4 weeks post outbreak) and was also detected in piglets that were co-mingled from a SVA negative sow farm. Similar to sows, SVA detection on rectal and tonsil swabs in piglets lasted approximately 6 weeks post outbreak.
Conclusion: The study illustrates the variation of SVA shedding patterns in different sample types over a 9 week period in sows and piglets, and suggests the potential for viral spread between piglets at weaning.

How much floor space does a pregnant sow need in a group-housing system with electronic sow feeders?

floor-allowance-gestating-sows
Sows housed in groups at the UMN facility in Morris

The University of Minnesota – Morris owns a swine research facility which provides an excellent set up to study the behavior of sows housed in groups. In the past few years, swine producers have committed to change the conditions in which the sows are housed in farms and to keep them in groups where they can interact with each other instead of housing them individually. Putting sows in group reminded us that pigs need a hierarchy and that they will compete and fight to establish it. Because space allowance can impact sows behavior we wondered what the optimum floor space is.

Read the entire report on floor space allowance for sows by Dr. Yuzhi Li

Determining floor space allowance for gestating sows can be controversial because more floor space allowance means low output per square footage of the barn and will potentially reduce profitability for producers. On the other hand, floor space allowance less than sow requirement can compromise sow welfare and performance. To answer the question in the title of this article, we conducted a two-year project (titled ‘Determining the Minimal Floor Space Allowance for Gestating Sows Kept in Pens with Electronic Sow Feeders’). The project was partially sponsored by the National Pork Board, and the research team includes Yuzhi Li and Lee Johnston from the WCROC in Morris, and Sam Baidoo from the SCROC (Southern Research and Outreach Center) in Waseca.[…]

 

M.hyopneumoniae: knowledge gaps for improved disease control

Enzootic pneumoniae is a chronic respiratory disease caused by Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae in pigs. It has been present in the industry for decades and causes significant economic losses. Yet, control methods like vaccination have not been able to contain the disease. Why is that? What information are we missing to design more effective control methods? This is the goal of the review paper co-authored by Dr. Maria Pieters from the University of Minnesota.

Focusing on various aspects of the disease like epidemiology, pathogenicity, diagnostics, and control measures, this publication regroups all the knowledge we currently have of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and identifies what we need to investigate to improve disease control.

Click on the banner below to access the full article.

Update on Mhyopneumoniae infections in pig Pieters 2017

Abstract:

Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (M. hyopneumoniae) is the primary pathogen of enzootic pneumonia, a chronic respiratory disease in pigs. Infections occur worldwide and cause major economic losses to the pig industry. The present paper reviews the current knowledge on M. hyopneumoniae infections, with emphasis on identification and analysis of knowledge gaps for optimizing control of the disease. Close contact between infected and susceptible pigs is the main route of M. hyopneumoniae transmission. Management and housing conditions predisposing for infection or disease are known, but further research is needed to better understand M. hyopneumoniae transmission patterns in modern pig production systems, and to assess the importance of the breeding population for downstream disease control. The organism is primarily found on the mucosal surface of the trachea, bronchi and bronchioles. Different adhesins and lipoproteins are involved in the adherence process. However, a clear picture of the virulence and pathogenicity of M. hyopneumoniae is still missing. The role of glycerol metabolism, myoinositol metabolism and the Mycoplasma Ig binding protein—Mycoplasma Ig protease system should be further investigated for their contribution to virulence. The destruction of the mucociliary apparatus, together with modulating the immune response, enhances the susceptibility of infected pigs to secondary pathogens. Clinical signs and severity of lesions depend on different factors, such as management, environmental conditions and likely also M. hyopneumoniae strain. The potential impact of strain variability on disease severity is not well defined. Diagnostics could be improved by developing tests that may detect virulent strains, by improving sampling in live animals and by designing ELISAs allowing discrimination between infected and vaccinated pigs. The currently available vaccines are often cost-efficient, but the ongoing research on developing new vaccines that confer protective immunity and reduce transmission should be continued, as well as optimization of protocols to eliminate M. hyopneumoniae from pig herds.

Science page: Are patterns of spatiotemporal clustering of PRRSv consistent across years?

This is our Friday rubric: every week a new Science Page from the Bob Morrison’s Swine Health Monitoring Project. The previous editions of the science page are available on our website.

This week, we studied a subset of MSHMP participants located in the Midwest to test if some location/time combinations are more prominent during certain seasons across the years. Data from 358 farms in 10 management systems from 2011 to 2015 was compiled to look for clusters.

The clusters found by the SaTScanTM software are represented below. The red circles represent clusters identified in the time period from January to June, whereas blue ones are July to December. We can note that clusters were identified every year but that they varied with time.

Significant PRRS spatial cluster midwest
Significant spatial clusters for PRRSV in the Midwest between 2011 and 2015.

Key points

  • PRRS cases are recognized to be seasonal and aggregated by geographical space.
  • However, spatiotemporal patterns of PRRS clustering were not consistent across years.
  • Drivers of infection spread may vary over the years.

Future uses for this model can be found in the entire report