The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) is watching porcine kobuvirus (PKV) as a possible emerging swine virus posing a valid threat to the US pork industry. Originally detected in 2008 in baby pigs in Hungary, PKV has been detected worldwide including in the US in 2013. SHIC-funded research conducted at Iowa State University resulted in the development and validation of a PKV real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (rRT-PCR) to detect strains of PKV circulating in US swine. The validation process of the PCR resulted in data that suggests PKV is widespread in US swine and additional research is needed to discern if pigs with or without diarrhea are infected with PKV or if different strains of the virus are more likely to cause diarrhea in swine.
PKV infection is most often a mild diarrheal disease with piglets of less than four weeks of age most likely to be infected. Prevalence in domestic pigs ranges from 13 to 99 percent and the virus has been isolated from both healthy and pigs with diarrhea. PKV is endemic in many countries and has been isolated worldwide.
In China, PKV was implicated as the cause of diarrhea, dehydration, and vomiting in piglets which resulted in morbidity of 80 to 100 percent and mortality of 50 to 90 percent, beginning in 2010. In the study summary, the authors say this suggests the emergence of PKV from different geographic regions is detectable using the targets based on the US strains of PKV.
No vaccines or anti-viral treatments have been developed for PKV infection in pigs. Proper sanitation and quarantine of ill pigs should help prevent and control possible outbreaks. This SHIC-funded study takes a critical step to identification of one of the viruses that might be threatening the US pork industry. As a result of this research, the swine industry has an assay able to detect Chinese strains of potentially pathogenic strains of PKV.
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