The blurred border between porcine circovirus type 2-systemic disease and porcine respiratory disease complex

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Porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC) is the name used to describe a clinical presentation characterized by respiratory signs and poor growth in growing-finishing pigs. Porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) is one of the pathogens potentially involved in the presentation of this complex, although, it has been mainly linked to PCV2-systemic disease (PCV2-SD). However, some reports have suggested that PCV2 can cause respiratory lesions in the absence of systemic lymphoid damage; this apparently different condition has been referred as PCV2-lung disease (PCV2-LD). The present study analysed retrospectively the relation between PRDC and PCV2 infection from a pathological point of view. Of the 317 selected pigs suffering from PRDC and submitted for necropsy between 1998 and 2011, the most prevalent lesions were subacute interstitial pneumonia (27.7%) and the combination of subacute interstitial pneumonia plus catarrhal-purulent bronchopneumonia (28.4%). Two hundred and twenty-six pigs were positive for PCV2 by in situ hybridization (ISH); using immunohistochemical techniques, 77 were positive for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus and 3 for swine influenza virus. Among positive pigs for PCV2 ISH, 184 animals suffered from PCV2-SD. The rest of 42 PCV2 ISH positive pigs had no lymphoid lesions and low amount of viral nucleic acid in these tissues and, therefore, did not qualify for PCVD-SD; only 9 had concomitant PCV2 ISH positivity in the lung, also to a low amount. In conclusion, all PRDC-PCV2 ISH positive cases had evidence of viral systemic infection. These results suggest that PCV2-LD is probably a negligible condition and PCV2 mainly contributes to PRDC in relation to PCV2-SD occurrence. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-247
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2013


  • Lesions
  • Porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2)
  • Porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC)
  • Postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS)
  • Respiratory
  • Swine


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