While global deadlines this week were about an influenza virus in humans, the focus of a veterinary meeting held in Portugal was on the damage done to pork production internationally by the porcine circovirus PCV2 in pigs.

The occasion was the European launch by Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health of piglet vaccine Porcilis PCV, at a series of events attended by over 400 swine-specialist veterinarians from throughout Europe. Presenters brought news from outside the European Union as well as within it, commenting for example that the Australian government was considering to allow the use of PCV vaccines by pig units in Australia because of problems there due to the virus.

Among EU countries, Austria has had a near-national policy since last October after farmer groups started a requirement for vaccination in member herds. A case study reported for an Austrian unit has demonstrated that the effects of the virus are made worse by the presence of mycotoxins in feeds. Late-stage disease during the finishing period, rather than in young pigs, was described as having become the predominant picture in many places internationally.

Subclinical results of infection seem to be occurring more often in Europe than in other regions of the world. Although vaccine use does not eliminate the circovirus, vaccination has been demonstrated to significantly reduce shedding of the virus by the pigs.