Pathogenic characterization of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus of Indian origin in experimentally infected piglets.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is an economically important transboundary viral disease of pigs confronting the swine industry worldwide. This study was aimed to assess the pathogenic potential of PRRS virus belonging to genotype 2 that emerged in India in 2013. Nine 6-week-old piglets were inoculated intranasally with 2×105.75 TCID50/ml of PRRSV (Ind-297221/2013). Three piglets were kept as uninfected controls. Blood and nasal swabs were collected daily up to 7 days post-infection (dpi) and on alternate days subsequently. Piglets were necropsied for tissue sample collection either on death or after euthanasia on 7, 14 or 21 dpi (one uninfected control and three PRRSV-infected piglets per interval). The virus caused high fever, typical blue ear, weight loss, respiratory distress, diarrhoea and leucopenia between 2 and 8 dpi. Two infected piglets died (on 3 and 17 dpi) during the course of study. The presence of virus in serum and nasal secretion was observed up to 19 and 17 dpi, respectively, with the maximum load between 4 and 7 dpi. Seroconversion started 6 dpi and the mean PRRSV antibody titre reached up to 640 by 21 dpi. Virus load was highest in tonsils at all the intervals, whereas in spleen and lymph nodes load was higher in later intervals. Major microscopic lesions in PRRSV-infected piglets included moderate to severe interstitial pneumonia, lymphoid depletion in tonsils and lymph nodes (cystic), thymic atrophy, reactive hyperplasia followed by lymphoid depletion in spleen. PRRSV antigen was consistently demonstrated by immunoperoxidase test in the lungs, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes. Antigen distribution was more widespread on 7 and 14 dpi than on 21 dpi. The findings establish that the Indian PRRSV is highly pathogenic to piglets.