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Vet Microbiol. 2010 Oct 26;145(3-4):209-19. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2010.03.026. Epub 2010 Mar 31.

Dual heterologous porcine circovirus genogroup 2a/2b infection induces severe disease in germ-free pigs.

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University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.


Our primary objectives were to determine: the relative virulence of porcine circovirus (PCV) 2a and PCV2b, if heterologous infection induces severe illness, and the relative concentration of PCV2a and PCV2b in tissues of heterologously infected pigs. In experiment 1, 18 germ-free piglets served as controls or were infected with PCV2a or PCV2b. Half were immune stimulated with keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) emulsified in incomplete Freund's adjuvant (2aKLH, 2bKLH). No piglets demonstrated severe illness. Lesion severity did not differ, but PCV2 capsid staining was more intense in 2a- than 2b-infected pigs (P<.05). In experiment 2, 20 germ-free piglets were dual inoculated 7 days apart with PCV2a and PCV2b (2a2b, 2b2a), PCV2b twice (2b2b), or PCV2a (2a2a) twice. Five of 9 heterologous-infected pigs developed severe illness. All heterologously infected pigs demonstrated ascites or edema, and 8/9 developed thymic atrophy. By contrast, 1 of 5 2b2b-infected pigs developed bronchopneumonia and pleural effusion. No 2a2a-infected pig developed illness. Gross lesions were more severe in heterologously infected pigs than in 2b2b pigs (P<.05), and were more severe in 2b2b than 2a2a pigs (P<.05). PCV2 capsid staining intensity did not differ by group. In heterologously infected pigs, higher levels of PCV2 DNA reflective of the first inoculum compared to the second were found in mesenteric lymph node (P=.04), spleen (P=.004) and liver (P=.04). These results indicate that dual heterologous PCV2a/2b inoculation 7 days apart may induce severe clinical illness, but PCV2a and PCV2b when administered singularly or in combination with KLH appear to be of equivalent virulence.

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