SHIC Investigates Novel Morbillivirus in Pigs

Farmscape for July 26, 2021

Full Interview 6:26 Listen

The Swine Health Information Center has launched an investigation following the identification of a new virus in the genus of Morbillivirus. In 2020, while investigating reports of fetal death, encephalitis and some abortions of litters in a swine herd in Mexico, staff of Iowa State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab identified a novel Morbillivirus, a cousin to Canine Distemper, and named it porcine morbillivirus. Swine Health Information Center Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg says, as a result SHIC is investigating the metagenomic sequencing of the virus, its infectivity and pathogenicity and potential diagnostic methods.

Clip-Dr. Paul Sundberg-Swine Health Information Center:
We don’t really know a whole lot yet. What we know is the clinical signs on the farm itself. There were reproductive signs which included the fetal deaths and abortions. It included encephalitis in young pigs, which was an interesting find so it was not only just in reproductive issues but included some encephalitis in young pigs and that’s really about all we know about it so far. What we’ve done is we’ve uncovered it and what we’re doing now is further study to make sure that we understand the issues of transmission, the risks of transmission and infection and the sequelae or what that infection can mean. We’re just on the front of this and it’s part of the mission of the Swine Health Information Center to made sure that, when reports like this come out, that we follow up on them and make sure we don’t let something slip through the cracks.

Dr. Sundberg acknowledges there is no evidence the infection has moved north and the risk of it entering the United States or Canada is low but it is important for swine producers and veterinarians to be aware of its existence. He expects to have more information on this virus within the next six months.

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