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Dynamics of virus distribution in a defined swine production network using enteric viruses as molecular markers

Lachapelle, V., Letellier, A., Fravalo, P., Brassard, J., L'Homme, Y. (2017). Dynamics of virus distribution in a defined swine production network using enteric viruses as molecular markers, 83(4),


© 2017 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved. Modern swine production systems represent complex and dynamic networks involving numerous stakeholders. For instance, livestock transporters carry live animals between fattening sites, abattoirs, and other premises on a daily basis. This interconnected system may increase the risk of microbial spread within and between networks, although little information is available in that regard. In the present study, a swine network composed of 10 finishing farms, one abattoir, and three types of stakeholders (veterinarians, livestock transporters, and nutritional technicians) in Quebec, Canada, was selected to investigate specific vectors and reservoirs of enteric viruses. Environmental samples were collected from the premises over a 12- month period. Samples were screened using targeted reverse transcription-PCR and sequencing of two selected viral markers, group A rotaviruses (RVA) and porcine astroviruses (PoAstV), both prevalent and genetically heterogeneous swine enteric viruses. The results revealed frequent contamination of farm sites (21.4 to 100%), livestock transporter vehicles (30.6 to 68.8%) and, most importantly, the abattoir yard (46.7 to 94.1%), depending on the sample types. Although high levels of strain diversity for both viruses were found, identical PoAstV and RVA strains were detected in specific samples from farms, the abattoir yard, and the livestock transporter vehicle, suggesting interconnections between these premises and transporters. Overall, the results from this study underscore the potential role of abattoirs and livestock transport as a reservoir and transmission route for enteric viruses within and between animal production networks, respectively.

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