The usefulness of oral fluid (OF) sampling for surveillance of infections in pig populations is already accepted but its value as a tool to support investigations of porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC) has been less well studied. This study set out to describe detection patterns of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2), swine influenza virus type A (SIV) and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (M. hyo) among farms showing differing severity of PRDC. The study included six wean-to-finish pig batches from farms with historical occurrence of respiratory disease. OF samples were collected from six pens every two weeks from the 5(th) to the 21(st) week of age and tested by real time PCR for presence of PRRSV, SIV and M. hyo and by quantitative real time PCR for PCV2. Data was evaluated alongside clinical and post-mortem observations, mortality rate, slaughter pathology, histopathology, and immunohistochemistry testing data for PCV2 antigen where available.
PRRSV and M. hyo were detectable in OF but with inconsistency between pens at the same sampling time and within pens over sequential sampling times. Detection of SIV in clinical and subclinical cases showed good consistency between pens at the same sampling time point with detection possible for periods of 2-4 weeks. Quantitative testing of OF for PCV2 indicated different patterns and levels of detection between farms unaffected or affected by porcine circovirus diseases (PCVD). There was good correlation of PCR results for multiple samples collected from the same pen but no associations were found between prevalence of positive test results and pen location in the building or sex of pigs.
Detection patterns for PRRSV, SIV and M. hyo supported the effectiveness of OF testing as an additional tool for diagnostic investigation of PRDC but emphasised the importance of sampling from multiple pens and on multiple occasions. Preliminary evidence supported the measurement of PCV2 load in pooled OF as a tool for prediction of clinical or subclinical PCVD at farm level.