Friday, October 10, 2014

No Not the Piggies!!

As an avid lover of all cute and swirly tail pigs, I feel like I have to report on Aujeszky's disease also known as pseudorabies.  The disease is known as the Mad Itch in cattle.  This disease is caused by the Suid herpesvirus 1 (SHV-1) in family herpesviridae.  SHV-1 primarily infects the central nervous system but can also infect the respiratory tract of several different animals including dogs, cattle, sheep, rabbits, foxes, minks, and other small mammals.  Humans and primates can't become infected.  The disease is primarily associated with pigs who are the natural hosts and reservoirs.  However, infected piglets under 2 weeks old will most often die of encephalitis.  The virus is shed in saliva and in nasal secretions, and the virus is transmitted via oral or nasal contact.  In pigs clinical signs will depend on several factors: age, route of infection, the virulence of the strain and the immunological condition of the pig.  This fact kills me the most: young piggies are exceptionally susceptible and can suffer from mortality rates of 100% in the first 2 weeks of age.  Common signs of Aujeszky's disease include hyperthermia and central nervous system related disorders such as trembling, incoordination, ataxia, and seizures.  As the pig grows older, the signs will change and the infect will move to different parts of the body.

Aujeszky's disease has been eradicated in several countries including the US, Canada, New Zealand, and many EU members. Feral pigs are an exception to eradication efforts.  On October 2, 2014 Director General of the National Veterinary and Food Safety Authority for the General Sanitary Veterinary Department in Bucharest, Romania reported a new outbreak where 9 piggies died suddenly. These cases were identified as SHV-1 infections.  The main methods of containment were quarantine and disinfection and sanitation.  While this virus many not be hot and new to other people, it is definitely new to me, and it makes my blood hot because the case fatality rate is 100%.  

- Nalani Wakinekona



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