AASV Porcine Circovirus Associated Diseases committee meets at World Pork Expo

The AASV Porcine Circovirus Associated Diseases (PCVAD) committee met during the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. The newly formed committee, chaired by AASV past-president Dr Tom Gillespie, held its first meeting to discuss the latest updates on the disease’s progression in North America and Europe, vaccine issues, case definitions, research topics, and database surveillance tools. Information provided by those in attendance indicates that PCVAD is severe in certain herds and production flows in concentrated pockets in hog-dense areas of the United States. The syndrome typically affects pigs in the early- to mid-finisher stage. Reports from the field and the research laboratory indicate that pigs that survive do not show reductions in growth rates and that it is not uncommon to observe a single pig in a pen exhibiting clinical signs.

Dr Joaquín Becerril and Dr John Harding gave similar reports regarding the current status of the disease in Mexico and Canada, respectively. Dr Becerril reported that the first case was reported in Mexico in 2001, and that currently there is a significant outbreak in northwestern Mexico. Dr Harding reported findings from a study which evaluated the differences in restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns between farms in Canada either clinically affected or clinically unaffected with PCVAD. The virus isolated from a majority of the clinically affected farms was identified as having a 3–2–1 RFLP pattern, compared to the 4–2–2 pattern observed on a majority of the clinically unaffected farms (Dr John Harding, unpublished data, 2006).

There was much discussion about strain variation and its significance relative to virulence and vaccine efficacy. The group expressed concern about the ability of current polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect different strains and the apparent link between the severe outbreaks currently being observed and a strain isolated in France. Practitioners were cautioned about making inferences regarding vaccine selection on the basis of genetic analysis of the virus. At this point, the viral genotype implications are not well understood.

The committee also discussed anecdotal reports regarding vaccine efficacy following field use in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Currently, three commercial vaccines are available on the global market. Some committee members emphasized that pigs from vaccinated or naturally infected sows are likely to have significant maternal antibodies that may block development of active immunity. They stressed the importance of vaccinating piglets after maternal antibody has declined.

The group also finalized a PCVAD case definition which will be submitted to the AASV Board of Directors for approval at their fall meeting and reviewed a disease-mapping tool being developed at Purdue University. This tool would facilitate the detection and tracking of disease or syndromic outbreaks and might aid with research efforts exploring viral transmission within and between farms. If you would like to contribute herd data to this confidential database, please visit the Web site at http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~helmelee/swine/survey.php and complete a short questionnaire.

2007 Industrial Partners sessions to include posters

Attendees will see a new twist to the Industrial Partners sessions at the AASV 2007 Annual Meeting in Orlando. While the number of sessions for oral presentation has been reduced from three to two, a poster session has been added to provide another opportunity for companies to share their research and technical information with AASV members. All presentations – oral and poster – will be published in the proceedings of the meeting.

As in the past, the two oral sessions will consist of a series of 15-minute presentations scheduled from 1:00 to 5:30 pm on Sunday afternoon, March 4. The poster session will take place the same day. Poster authors will be required to be stationed with their posters from 12:00 noon until 1:00 pm, but the posters will remain on display throughout the afternoon for viewing by meeting attendees.

Call for abstracts

The AASV invites submissions from commercial companies interested in participating in the Industrial Partners sessions. Companies that are members of the Journal of Swine Health and Production (JSHAP) Industry Support Council (listed on the inside front cover of JSHAP) may submit up to two topics for oral presentation. All other companies may submit one topic for oral presentation. Each company may submit one additional topic for poster presentation. All topics must represent information not previously presented at the AASV annual meeting or published in the meeting proceedings.

Interested companies should send the topic title, a brief description or abstract of the presentation content, company name, and presenter information (name, address, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address) for each presentation to: Commercial Sessions, AASV, 902 1st Avenue, Perry, IA 50220; Fax: 515-465-3832; E-mail: aasv@aasv.org.

Please identify whether the submission is intended for oral or poster presentation. Submissions must be received by October 1, 2006.

Authors will be notified of their selection by October 16, 2006, and must submit the complete paper for publication in the proceedings by November 15, 2006.


Veterinary student scholarships

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians announces an opportunity for up to 15 veterinary students to make scientific presentations during the student seminar at the AASV annual meeting on Sunday, March 4, 2007, in Orlando, Florida. Interested students are invited to submit a one-page abstract of a research paper, clinical case study, or literature review for consideration. Abstracts and supplementary materials must be received by Dr Sandy Amass by midnight on Friday, September 22, 2006 (firm deadline). Faxes are acceptable. Late abstracts will not be considered. The abstracts will be reviewed by an unbiased, professional panel consisting of a private practitioner, an academician at a school from which no students have submitted abstracts, and an industry veterinarian. Students whose papers are selected for presentation at the meeting will be notified by October 16, 2006, and will be expected to provide the complete paper or abstract for publication by November 15, 2006.

To help defray the costs of attending the AASV meeting, Alpharma Animal Health is generously providing a $500 honorarium to the student presenter of each paper selected for the seminar.

Veterinary students whose papers are selected for presentation at the meeting will be eligible to compete for one of several veterinary student scholarships awarded through the AASV Foundation. The oral presentations will be judged to determine the amount of the scholarship awarded.

Alpharma funds a $5000 scholarship for the student whose paper, oral presentation, and supporting information are judged best overall.

The Eli Lilly & Company Foundation, on behalf of Elanco Animal Health, has provided $20,000 in additional funding, enabling the AASV Foundation to provide awards of $2500 each for 2nd through 5th place, $1500 each for 6th through 10th place, and $500 each for 11th through 15th place.

New – Poster session!

Students whose papers are not selected for oral presentation in the student seminar will be eligible to be considered for participation in a poster session at the annual meeting. Up to fifteen (15) posters will be selected through a competitive process. A stipend of $250 will be awarded to students who are selected and participate in the poster presentation.

Complete information for preparing and submitting abstracts is available on the AASV website (http://www.aasv.org/annmtg/2007/studentseminar.htm). Please note: the rules for submission should be followed carefully. For more information, contact the AASV office (Tel: 515-465-5255; Fax: 515-465-3832; E-mail: aasv@aasv.org).

AASV offers a new tool in the fight against porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome

The AASV accepted ownership of the Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc (BIVI) PRRS Risk Assessment Tool during the World Pork Expo. The survey and benchmarking tool, developed by a BIVI team led by Dale Polson, DVM, PhD, senior manager of technical resources, evaluates risk factors associated with virus introduction and circulation on farms. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is estimated to cost US swine producers $560 million annually, making it the costliest disease in swine production.

In accepting the gift, Dr Daryl Olsen of the Audubon-Manning Veterinary Clinic in Audubon, Iowa, and AASV president-elect, noted that although veterinarians and producers have been successful in eliminating the virus from individual herds, production flows, and even localized areas, the real challenge has been preventing re-infection of those farms. Dr Olsen stated that “by working through the PRRS Risk Assessment questionnaire with the producer, veterinarians can identify potential facility, management, and animal factors that may increase the likelihood of virus introduction or the severity of the disease.”

The risk factors identified in the Risk Assessment Tool are not limited to PRRS virus, however. Many of the lessons learned by working through the questionnaire can be applied to reducing the likelihood of other disease introductions and minimizing the severity of common domestic and newly emerging diseases as well.

The AASV is currently training swine veterinarians to conduct the assessments, enter the data, and interpret the results. Dr Tom Burkgren, AASV Executive Director, indicated that “through the continued support of BI Vetmedica and the generous contributions from the National Pork Board’s Pork Checkoff, the AASV plans to begin expanding the scope of the tool to include the grow-finish segment of swine production and over the next year will adapt the tool for Web-based application.” In addition, the association plans to offer researchers access to the cumulative data collected to enhance future PRRS research.

Food supply veterinary medicine – Attracting students, retaining veterinarians, and the future

In 2004, the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition (FSVMC) was formed to reinforce the important role the food animal veterinarian plays in ensuring a safe, wholesome, and abundant food supply. The FSVMC is composed of a number of specialty veterinary organizations, including the AASV and United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. In May 2004, the coalition commissioned a far-reaching research program to examine the demand and supply patterns for food animal veterinarians. The AVMA has published the executive summary of the findings of that research in a series of three articles in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA), beginning with the June 1st issue.1

The first article1 explores the challenge of attracting students into careers in food supply veterinary medicine. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 28,000 veterinary job openings nationwide by 2012. The effects of changing careers within the veterinary profession, job retention, and job satisfaction is discussed in the second installment, in the June 15th edition of the JAVMA.2 The final article, in the July 1st edition,3 explores the future demand for food supply veterinarians.


1. Gwinner KP, Prince JB, Andrus DM. Attracting students into careers in food supply medicine. JAVMA. 2006;228:1693–1704.

2. Andrus DM, Gwinner KP, Prince JB. Job satisfaction, changes in occupational area, and commitment to a career in food supply veterinary medicine. JAVMA. 2006;228:1884–1893.

3. Prince JB, Andrus DM, Gwinner KP. Future demand, probable shortages, and strategies for creating a better future in food supply veterinary medicine. JAVMA. 2006;229:57–69.