Genetic characterization of porcine sapoviruses identified from pigs during a diarrhoea outbreak in Iowa, 2019.
Porcine sapovirus (SaV) was first identified by electron microscopy in the United States in 1980 and has since been reported from both asymptomatic and diarrhoeic pigs usually in mixed infection with other enteric pathogens. SaV as the sole aetiological agent of diarrhoea in naturally infected pigs has not previously been reported in the United States. Here, we used four independent lines of evidence including metagenomics analysis, real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR), histopathology, and in situ hybridization to confirm porcine SaV genogroup III (GIII) as the sole cause of enteritis and diarrhoea in pigs. A highly sensitive and specific rRT-PCR was established to detect porcine SaV GIII. Examination of 184 faecal samples from an outbreak of diarrhoea on a pig farm showed that pigs with clinical diarrhoea had significantly lower Ct values (15.9 ± 0.59) compared to clinically unaffected pigs (35.8 ± 0.71). Further survey of 336 faecal samples from different states in the United States demonstrated that samples from pigs with clinical diarrhoea had a comparable positive rate (45.3%) with those from asymptomatic pigs (43.1%). However, the SaV-positive pigs with clinical diarrhoea had significantly higher viral loads (Ct = 26.0 ± 0.5) than the SAV-positive but clinically healthy pigs (Ct = 33.2 ± 0.9). Phylogenetic analysis of 20 field SaVs revealed that all belonged to SaV GIII and recombination analysis indicated that intragenogroup recombination had occurred within the field isolates of SaV GIII. These results suggest that porcine SaV GIII plays an important aetiologic role in swine enteritis and diarrhoea and rRT-PCR is a reliable method to detect porcine SaV. Our findings provide significant insights to better understand the epidemiology and pathogenicity of porcine SaV infection.