Multiple routes of porcine circovirus type 2 transmission to piglets in the presence of maternal immunity

Cheryl M.T. Dvorak, Michael P. Lilla, Seth R. Baker, Michael P. Murtaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2), the cause of porcine circovirus-associated disease (PCVAD), is widespread in swine farms throughout the United States with vaccine controlling disease, but not eliminating infection. We examined the PCV2 virological and immunological status of sows, pre-suckling piglets, and the farrowing environment of sow farms to determine PCV2 exposure risks, transmission dynamics, and immunological impacts at the time of farrowing. PCV2 was widely distributed in animals and the farrowing environment of 6 midwestern US sow farms irrespective of sow vaccination status. High levels of PCV2 capsid-specific antibodies were observed in sow serum and colostrum and had no apparent effect on PCV2 transmission to and infection in piglets. In 281 pre-suckling piglets from 59 sows, PCV2 DNA was detected in 63% of serum samples and on 93% of axillary skin swabs. PCV2 was present in one or more samples from 58 of 59 sows and in the farrowing environment. Isolated infectious virus samples from sows, presuckling piglets, and the environment were shown by sequencing to be genetically similar from all farms. In conclusion, piglets are readily infected with PCV2 in utero and are under constant challenge by PCV2 through contact with infected sows and a contaminated farrowing environment. However, maternal immunity did not affect PCV2 transmission to piglets or the viral load in sows. These findings illustrate the importance of maternal infection, despite robust anti-PCV2 immunity, in early infection of newborn piglets, and the need to develop appropriate infection models for elucidation of mechanisms of protective immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-374
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 25 2013


  • Animal health
  • Disease transmission
  • Immunology
  • Natural infection
  • PCV2
  • Swine


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