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Is PEDv infecting herds through artificial insemination?

by 5m Editor
22 January 2019, at 12:00am

New research advises regular PCR testing of semen to ensure safe, PEDv-free insemination.

Authors S. Gallien, V. Catinot, N. Pozzi, M. Berri, E. Authié, N. Rose and B. Grasland

Study abstract

Pigs infected by porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDV) are affected by severe diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration. The severity of clinical signs depends on the virus strain.

Two genetically different PEDv strains are known to infect pigs, the PEDv S-InDel strains which circulate on all continents and the highly virulent PEDv S-non-InDel strains found in Asia and in America.

We have previously demonstrated the presence of PEDv RNA in semen from boars experimentally infected with an S-non-InDel PEDv strain. If naturally infected boars may shed PEDv in semen, this would have important consequences for the breeding sector. Thus we sought to determine whether PEDv has been circulating in populations of breeding boars from French artificial insemination (AI) centres.

The current study reports on a serological survey conducted on one hundred and twenty boars from six AI centres, representing 18.6% of the total population of breeding boars in French AI centres in 2015.

All of them were found negative for PEDv antibodies, showing no evidence of PEDv circulation in French AI centres at that time.

Study conclusions

Our results indicate that the sanitary controls of boars prior their departure from the holding of origin and before their entry into semen collection centres may have prevented PEDv introduction into French AI centres till 2015. Nevertheless, there remain some uncertainties on the PEDv status of imported boars. A recent study revealed that clinically healthy boars experimentally infected with PEDv (absence of diarrhoea, vomiting and shedding in faeces) could shed intermittently PEDv in semen in the absence of seroconversion. The veterinary certificate delivered prior to departure of the breeding boars might therefore not provide absolute certitude of safe semen. It might be advisable to carry out PCR on semen samples for artificial insemination.

To our knowledge, there is no report from other countries on the serological status of boars in AI centres. Our study indicates that PEDv has most likely not circulated in the French AI centres included in the study, at least till 2015. Nevertheless it might be advisable, in order to ensure safe trade and safe AI, to recommend semen testing for PEDv. AI centres in France have adopted for a long time good practices in routine work and thus have reached a high level of biosecurity. It is essential that this is maintained and possibly reinforced in order to prevent introduction of emerging pathogens such as PEDv.


S. Gallien, V. Catinot, N. Pozzi, M. Berri, E. Authié, N. Rose and B. Grasland (2019). No evidence of PEDv infection in French artificial insemination centres in 2015. Porcine Health Management, 5:5.

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