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Experimental Infection of Domestic Piglets (Sus scrofa) with Rift Valley Fever Virus

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  • 1 Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia;
  • | 2 Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

ABSTRACT.

Rift Valley fever phlebovirus (RVFV) is a mosquito-transmitted phlebovirus (Family: Phenuiviridae, Order: Bunyavirales) causing severe neonatal mortality and abortion primarily in domestic ruminants. The susceptibility of young domestic swine to RVFV and this species’ role in geographic expansion and establishment of viral endemicity is unclear. Six commercially bred Landrace-cross piglets were inoculated subcutaneously with 105 plaque-forming units of RVFV ZH501 strain and two piglets received a sham inoculum. All animals were monitored for clinical signs, viremia, viral shedding, and antibody response for 14 days. Piglets did not develop evidence of clinical disease, become febrile, or experience decreased weight gain during the study period. A brief lymphopenia followed by progressive lymphocytosis was observed following inoculation in all piglets. Four piglets developed a brief viremia for 2 days post-inoculation and three of these had detectable virus in oronasal secretions three days post-inoculation. Primary inoculated piglets seroconverted and those that developed detectable viremias had the highest titers assessed by serum neutralization (1:64–1:256). Two viremic piglets had a lymphoplasmacytic encephalitis with glial nodules; RVFV was not detected by immunohistochemistry in these sections. While young piglets do not appear to readily develop clinical disease following RVFV infection, results suggest swine could be subclinically infected with RVFV.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Lorelei L. Clarke, Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, 445 Easterday Ln, Madison, WI 53706. E-mail: llclarke@wisc.edu

Financial support: Funding was provided by the sponsorship of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study by the fish and wildlife agencies of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, USA. Support from the states to SCWDS was provided in part by the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration Act (50 Stat. 917).

Authors’ addresses: Lorelei L. Clarke, Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, E-mail: llclarke@wisc.edu. Daniel G. Mead, Mark G. Ruder, and Deborah L. Carter, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, E-mails: dmead@uga.edu, mgruder@uga.edu, and dlcarter@uga.edu. Jennifer Bloodgood, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Dauphin Island, AL, E-mail: jbloodgood@disl.org. Elizabeth Howerth, Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, E-mail: howerth@uga.edu.

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