In the Spring of 2009, a veterinarian reported suspected classical swine fever (CSF) on a multiplier pig farm in the southern part of the Netherlands (close to the Belgian border). Over a 5-week period there had been a number of sick sows and an excessively high percentage of stillborn and preterm piglets. Sick animals were treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics, but did not respond as well as anticipated. A visiting specialist team from the Food Safety Authority could not exclude CSF as the cause of the clinical problems and sent blood samples to the reference laboratory in Lelystad for a PCR test on CSF antigen. Fortunately, test results obtained 6 hours later were negative for CSF, and the disease control measures were lifted. It later appeared that porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRSV) might have been responsible for the problems. But what if CSF had caused the clinical problems? A C SF-transmission model was used to simulate CSF outbreaks dependent on the duration of the high-risk period (HRP). As the duration of the HRP increased, there was an exponential growth in the number of pig farms infected during this period. Simulations also showed that with a longer HRP, the virus spread over greater distances from the source herd. It was also investigated whether a possible CSF outbreak could be detected on the basis of an increased mortality and hence increased number of cadavers sent to a rendering plant. However, the calculated mortality incidence was not sensitive enough to serve as an alarm signal. It is recommended that CSF-exclusion diagnostics be used much earlier in similar clinical situations on pig farms.
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