Persistent Infection and Transmission of Senecavirus A from Carrier Sows to Contact Piglets

Journal of Virology

Abstract Senecavirus A (SVA) is a picornavirus that causes acute vesicular disease (VD), that is clinically indistinguishable from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), in pigs. Notably, SVA RNA has been detected in lymphoid tissues of infected animals several weeks following resolution of the clinical disease, suggesting that the virus may persist in select host tissues. Here, we investigated the occurrence of persistent SVA infection and the contribution of stressors (transportation, immunosuppression, or parturition) to acute disease and recrudescence from persistent SVA infection. Our results show that transportation stress leads to a slight increase in disease severity following infection. During persistence, transportation, immunosuppression, and parturition stressors did not lead to overt/recrudescent clinical disease, but intermittent viremia and virus shedding were detected up to day 60 postinfection (p.i.) in all treatment groups following stress stimulation. Notably, real-time PCR and in situ hybridization (ISH) assays confirmed that the tonsil harbors SVA RNA during the persistent phase of infection. Immunofluorescence assays (IFA) specific for double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) demonstrated the presence of double-stranded viral RNA in tonsillar cells. Most importantly, infectious SVA was isolated from the tonsil of two animals on day 60 p.i., confirming the occurrence of carrier animals following SVA infection. These findings were supported by the fact that contact piglets (11/44) born to persistently infected sows were infected by SVA, demonstrating successful transmission of the virus from carrier sows to contact piglets. Results here confirm the establishment of persistent infection by SVA and demonstrate successful transmission of the virus from persistently infected animals.