Evaluation of the pathogenicity and transmissibility of a Chilean isolate of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus.
The objective of this study was to determine clinical features, shedding and transmission of a Chilean Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV) strain upon experimental inoculation of 4-week-old pigs. Six groups of five animals each were used. The G1 (donor) group was inoculated with PRRSV, maintained in an isolation unit for 35 days, and sampled daily to determine shedding in mucosal secretions and faeces, viraemia and seroconversion. An uninfected control group (G6) was equally maintained and sampled under strict isolation. Four other groups (G2 to G5) were exposed to PRRSV via direct contact with G1 for 5-day periods in a staggered manner, throughout the 35-day period, and were later placed in an independent isolation unit to monitor infection status for 7 days. All the animals in G1 and G6 were killed at 35 days post-inoculation (dpi) and the contact groups at 12 days post-contact (dpc). Samples were obtained from diverse organs for histopathological, immunohistochemical (IHC) and virological analysis. No clinical symptoms were evident in any group, except for a transient fever observed in G1. Histopathologically, all the animals of G1 had interstitial pneumonia, although scarce PRRSV-positive cells were detected in the lung using IHC. PRRSV-positive cells (IHC) were detected in the lymphoid tissue of all animals in infected groups, but especially in G3 and G4. Viraemia was detected in G1 (3-35 dpi) and in the all contact groups (5-12 dpc). Likewise, ranging from 3 to 19 dpi, PRRSV was detected in at least one animal from the tonsils and lungs in all infected groups, in nasal and ocular secretions, saliva or faeces. These results indicate that the donor group excreted infectious PRRSV and was able to transmit the infection to susceptible pigs. The critical shedding period was 7-19 dpi, during which, most likely, transmission took place.