Using oral fluids samples for indirect influenza A virus surveillance in farmed UK pigs

Priscilla Freitas Gerber, Lorna Dawson, Ben Strugnell, Robert Burgess, Helen Brown, Tanja Opriessnig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Influenza A virus (IAV) is economically important in pig production and has broad public health implications. In Europe, active IAV surveillance includes demonstration of antigen in nasal swabs and/or demonstration of antibodies in serum (SER) samples; however, collecting appropriate numbers of individual pig samples can be costly and labour-intensive. The objective of this study was to compare the probability of detecting IAV antibody positive populations using SER versus oral fluid (OF) samples. Paired pen samples, one OF and 5-14 SER samples, were collected cross-sectional or longitudinally. A commercial nucleoprotein (NP)-based blocking ELISA was used to test 244 OF and1004 SER samples from 123 pens each containing 20-540 pigs located in 27 UK herds. Overall, the IAV antibody detection rate was higher in SER samples compared to OFs under the study conditions. Pig age had a significant effect on the probability of detecting positive pens. For 3-9 week old pigs the probability of detecting IAV antibody positive samples in a pen with 95% confidence intervals was 40% (23-60) for OF and 61% (0.37-0.80) for SER (p=0.04), for 10-14 week old pigs it was 19% (8-40) for OF and 93% (0.71-0.99) for SER (p<0.01), and for 18-20 week old pigs it was 67% (41-85) for OF and 81% (0.63-0.91) for SER (p=0.05). Collecting more than one OF sample in pens with more than 25 less than 18 week old pigs should be further investigated in the future to elucidate the suitability of OF for IAV surveillance in herds with large pen sizes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-12
JournalVeterinary Medicine and Science
Issue number1
Early online date16 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • swine influenza virus
  • diagnostics
  • enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
  • surveillance


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