Producers enquire about circovirus

MINNESOTA - Dr. Barry Kerkaert, DVM was speaking at a pork seminar, but in between sessions he talked to clients on his cell phone about a new and serious disease concern.
calendar icon 5 January 2007
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Kerkaert is a swine veterinarian and production consultant at Pipestone Veterinary Clinic.

His clients - pork producers - have made lots of phone calls to him lately to find out if what they are seeing in their grower/finisher barns is Porcine Circovirus Associated Diseases (PCVAD).

The disease has been associated with quickly killing 25 percent or more of the pigs in a barn in four to eight weeks.

“The primary thing with PCVAD is respiratory disease,” said Kerkaert in his talk. “Here's what producers will describe to me. You'll call and say your pigs have got the flu and had it for three or four weeks. You can't shake it. The medication doesn't work, plus the pigs are falling apart.”

Circovirus is both an old and a new disease. Scientists believe strains of circovirus can be found on every pig farm in North America. Finding the organism does not necessarily mean PCVAD will occur.

Changes to the virus have apparently led to more pathogenic and serious forms of the disease.

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians named the disease Porcine Circovirus Associated Diseases in March 2006 - referring specifically to illness related to Porcine Circovirus Type 2 - or PCV2.

“I'm on the phone, my partners are on the phone, and about half of our calls are about circovirus,” said Kerkaert. “When we first described the problem five-six months ago, everybody thought they had circovirus for awhile. Then we realized there was only a fraction that had it. Now we're finding more circovirus every day.”

The disease was first identified in Canada in the early 1990s, but it wasn't considered a serious threat. In the last five years, the PCV2 strain has caused problems throughout the world, and most recently in the Midwest. Minnesota and Iowa have been particularly hard hit in the last two quarters of 2006.

At the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, there were 1,535 cases of PCVAD diagnosed as of August for the 2006 year. That number has far surpassed the 964 cases found in 2005.

Source: Livestock Roundup
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