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Complacency over PCVDs, could threaten global pig health

by 5m Editor
13 July 2007, at 1:41pm

EU - The team heading-up the European Commission-funded research project on porcine circovirus diseases (PCVD), says that imporant diseases may be exisiting unnoticed in some herds, because farmers and veterinary surgeons have become too familiar with the ailments associated with porcine circovirus.

The team has issued a stark warning: don't become complacent with on-farm clinical diagnosis of suspected PCVDs.

The warning follows reports of the deaths of millions of pigs in China from a “mystery” pig disease, confirmation of African Swine Fever in Georgia, an outbreak of Classical Swine Fever in Croatia and reports of unprecedented losses of pigs from PCVDs in the United States and Canada.

The team, lead by Prof Gordon Allan, says that many countries have reported a drop in the level of diagnostic submissions to laboratories. The reason, it believes, is due to the clinical and gross post mortem signs associated with PCVD being not specific and with many similarities to classical swine fever and African swine fever.

Pig producers experiencing PCVD-like disease occurrences are being urged to submit samples for laboratory diagnosis as soon as possible, and not just assume that the clinical picture is that of a PCVD.

Delays in diagnosis have been blamed for the size and scales of the Classical Swine Fever epidemic in the Netherlands in 1997 and the Foot and Mouth crisis in the United Kingdom during 2001.

More recently, and of increasing concern to the European Union, is the outbreak of African Swine Fever in Georgia. This highly contagious viral disease was confirmed in herds in June 2007, but is now thought to have been present since at least April.

Until now this ASF was thought to be mainly confined to sub-Saharan Africa. However, this dramatic extension to the international distribution of this virus, it is now threatening countries bordering Georgia and possibly northern Europe.

The PCVD project management team says pig industries throughout the world must be vigilant. Good laboratory diagnosis is vital if further epizootics of notifiable diseases are to be identified as early as possible and controlled effectively.

One of the key elements of the PCVD research project has been to focus on harmonising and distributing reagents and protocols for PCVD diagnoses and research across European Union member countries. This will hopefully ensure continuity in laboratory diagnosis of PCVD and will also help in meaningful direct comparison of research results between laboratories working on PCVD.

Further information: www.pcvd.org.

5m Editor