Two successive transmission trials were performed involving 52 pigs to evaluate the effectiveness of a Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) vaccinal strain candidate against horizontal transmission of a virulent heterologous strain. PRRS virus, above the specified limit of detection, was observed in serum and nasal secretions for all but one pig (the exception only tested positive for serum), indicating that vaccination did not protect pigs from becoming infected and shedding the heterologous strain. However, vaccination delayed the onset of viraemia, reduced the duration of shedding and significantly decreased viral load throughout infection. Serum antibody profiles indicated that 4 out of 13 (31%) vaccinates in one trial had no serological response (NSR).
A Bayesian epidemiological model was fitted to the data to assess the impact of vaccination and presence of NSRs on PRRS virus transmission dynamics. Despite little evidence for reduction in the transmission rate, vaccinated animals were on average slower to become infectious, experienced a shorter infectious period and recovered faster. The overall PRRSV transmission potential, represented by the reproductive ratio R0 was lower for the vaccinated animals, although there was substantial overlap in the credibility intervals for both groups. Model selection suggests that transmission parameters of vaccinated pigs with NSR were more similar to those of unvaccinated animals. The presence of NSRs in a population, however, seemed to only marginally affect the transmission dynamics.
The results suggest that even when vaccination can’t prevent infection, it can still have beneficial impacts on the transmission dynamics and contribute to reducing a herd’s R0. However, biosecurity and other measures need to be considered to decrease contact rates and lower R0 below 1.
- Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome