Experts on PCV2 provided vets with an update on the virus at the Pig Veterinary Society’s autumn meeting, including a look at how it interacts with the pig’s dendritic cells, which trigger danger recognition.

Two leading experts on PCV2 provided vets with an update on the virus at the Pig Veterinary Society’s autumn meeting.

Dr Kenneth McCullough and Thaïs Vila at the Pig Veterinary Society's autumn meeting.Dr Kenneth McCullough, head of research at Switzerland’s Institute of Virology and Immunoprophylaxis, talked about the impact of PCV2 on the immune system.

He explained how the virus affects the porcine immune system and provided an insight into its interaction with the dendritic cells. He said these cells are critical because they trigger danger recognition, and thus help to provide the pig with immunity to disease.

While the double-stranded DNA in PCV2 reduced the levels of danger recognition in the cells, the single-stranded DNA in the virus actually helped to induce this recognition.

Dr McCullough endorsed the early protection of pigs through vaccination and emphasised the important role of herd management and nutrition – a subject discussed in further details by Thaïs Vila, technical director, EMEA for swine products at Merial Animal Health, who discussed how the disease manifests itself, and how herd management and vaccination can help combat it.

PVS programmeShe said: “In recent years the symptoms of PCV2 have become less obvious, and may even be sub-clinical. Nowadays, the symptoms may occur later in the pig’s life. The clinical signs can be similar to other viral infections and may depend on co-infections. Symptoms include digestive and respiratory disorders.”

“In sows PCV2 affects reproduction including return to oestrus, increased abortions and stillbirths, and pre-weaning mortality. Naïve gilts are particularly at risk from the virus.”

She explained that while vaccination has a critical role to play, there were a number of aspects of herd management that were also important. These included:

  • Colostrum intake
  • Pig flow management
  • Buildings
  • Hygiene
  • Feed
  • Control of co-infections
  • Genetics

Her presentation included two case studies demonstrating the benefit of vaccination – one featuring piglet vaccination and one on sow vaccination.

Vaccinated with Circovac saw an additional 1.6 pigs weaned per year per sow, says German research.The first example featured a Spanish company that had focused most of its attention on PRRS, but still had problems including poor performance, increased fattening mortality, and high incidence of pneumonia. As a result it decided to vaccinate its piglets against PCV2. Two groups of pigs were compared – one before vaccination and one after.

Increased performance post-vaccination included a reduction in the number of days of feed, decreased mortality rates, and increased average daily weight gains and slaughter weights. 

A German case study looked at the benefits of sow vaccination on reproduction across two cycles. This research showed that, in sows vaccinated with Circovac, the number of piglets increased by an average of 0.8. The number of weaned piglets increased by 0.7, which translates to an additional 1.6 pigs weaned per year per sow.

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