Britain’s Veterinary Laboratories Agency, VLA, is to increase surveillance for PCV2 virus as a cause of reproductive failure in cases of abortion and stillbirth, where no other infectious cause has been identified.

The hearts of stillborn or aborted piglets submitted to the agency will be examined for myocarditis, the lesion caused by PCV2 in the heart of the developing pig foetus. When a myocarditis is detected, immunohistochemistry will be used to determine whether PCV2 is the cause.

VLA veterinary officer Susanna Williamson says: “Data from the field and research show that PCV2 can be transmitted to the pig foetus, and may, in previously naïve gilts and sows, cause piglets to be aborted or stillborn with myocarditis lesions. "Through this increased surveillance we will be able to monitor for PCV2-associated abortion and stillbirth and obtain a better idea of the role that it plays in porcine reproductive failure in England and Wales. Other pathogens may also cause myocarditis, which is why it will be essential to demonstrate the PCV2 in association with lesions to obtain a diagnosis.”

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Ricardo Neto, veterinary advisor with Merial Animal Health, said: “We welcome this move as it should provide a clearer picture about what is happening with regard to the transmission of the PCV2 virus and the effect that it has.

“It would be very helpful if vets could have a diagnosis of PCV2 in reproductive failures on their client farms, especially because the control of PCV2 among breeding animals can have such a great economic impact.”