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PCVD — Result In Brief

Project ID: 513928
Funded under: FP6-FOOD

Managing porcine diseases

Porcine circovirus diseases (PCVDs) have emerged in the EU with devastating consequences for pig welfare and the pork industry. To avoid the financial losses incurred in the industry, a European consortium investigated the pathology of PCVD, proposing control measures for disease prevention and management.
Managing porcine diseases
PCVDs target the pig immune system, resulting in a slower growth rate and immune dysfunction, greatly increasing the incidence of secondary bacterial infections, including salmonella and other zoonotic pathogens. This leads to the extensive use of antibiotics and a decline in meat quality.

To overcome these issues, the EU-funded ‘Studies on the epidemiology, early pathogenesis and control of porcine circovirus diseases (PCVDs)’ (PCVD) consortium focused on elucidating the role of PCV2 in porcine disease. At the beginning of the project, the little information available about PCVD was that the causal infectious agent was PCV2 and that other external parameters were important in the full clinical expression of the disease.

Project scientists discovered that PCV2 appeared to act as an immunosuppressive viral agent, inducing lymphoid tissue lesions and progressive growth retardation in infected pigs. Results supported the hypothesis that the virus infected dendritic cells, managing to escape immune attack and prolonging its stay long-term.

Additionally, genetic studies were performed to determine host susceptibility to disease. It was observed that only pigs younger than three to four weeks of age manifested with the severe clinical form of PCVD. Collectively, all this information was used to generate control measures for PCVD in order to reduce the use of antibiotics and secondary zoonotic bacterial infections.

The scientific results and control measures against PCVD were proactively disseminated to stakeholders and the EU farmers’ cooperation COPA-COGECA welcomed the control measures suggested by the project. Implementation of project outcomes is expected to help producers meet consumer concerns for quality and safety of pork products.

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