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Vet Microbiol. 2003 Feb 25;91(4):295-308.

Estimating the incidence of influenza-virus infections in Dutch weaned piglets using blood samples from a cross-sectional study.

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Department of Swine Health, Animal Health Service, P.O. Box 9, 7400AA Deventer, The Netherlands.


A cross-sectional study was carried out on 32 Dutch breeding herds to estimate the incidence of influenza-virus infections in piglets before the start of the finishing period, at the age of approximately 10 weeks. Longitudinal studies on two herds (8 and 10 litters, respectively) were done to obtain an average decay function for maternal antibodies.Each participating farm in the cross-sectional study was visited twice within 5 months; each time, blood samples were taken randomly from one compartment (a separate room with separate air flow) of 4-5-week-old piglets and one compartment of 8-9-week-old piglets. These blood samples (a total of 2598; 16-23 per compartment, depending on its size) were tested in a haemagglutination inhibition test for antibodies against influenza-virus subtypes H1 and H3. Samples from 8-9-week-old piglets from the first sampling period (n=660) were also tested in an IgM ELISA. For each individual herd and each influenza-virus subtype separately, the decay function derived from the longitudinal studies was used to calculate an expected seroprevalence in 8-9-week-old piglets, which was then compared to the observed seroprevalence. Depending on subtype and sampling period, between 10 and 15 of the 32 herds were suspected of virus circulation during the weaning period because the observed seroprevalence was significantly higher than the expected seroprevalence (P<0.05). In the first sampling period the IgM ELISA confirmed six of these outbreaks. However, due to the small window of detection of the IgM ELISA (compared to the length of the weaning period), it will always underestimate the number of infections. Infections in the first half of the weaning period will no longer be detectable because IgM antibodies have already disappeared. In individual pigs, an incidence of 16-17% was estimated for each subtype over a 4-week period between the age of 4-5 and 8-9 weeks. For each influenza subtype, 80% of the piglets will enter the finishing facilities without antibodies or with decaying maternal antibodies. These piglets may be susceptible to an infection with influenza virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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