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Gumbert, Sophie; Froehlich, Sebastian; Rieger, Anna; Stadler, Julia; Ritzmann, Mathias and Zoels, Susanne (2020): Reproductive performance of pandemic influenza A virus infected sow herds before and after implementation of a vaccine against the influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 virus. In: Porcine Health Management 6:4 [PDF, 671kB]


Background: Reproductive failure in sow herds due to infection with influenza A viruses has been described in the literature, but only a few studies have focused on the pathogenesis and the clinical signs of the infection. Case reports indicate an association between infections with influenza A viruses and reduced reproductive performance, although it has been difficult to experimentally reproduce the clinical outcome of poor reproductive performance. The aim of the present longitudinal field study was to compare the reproductive performance parameters before and after the implementation of vaccination against the influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 virus in sow herds infected with pandemic influenza A virus. Therefore, farm-specific data of 137 sow herds in Germany, including 60,153 sows, as well as the clinical presentation of the infection were surveyed via questionnaire. Furthermore, average performance parameters (return to oestrus rate, abortion rate, stillbirth rate, number of piglets born alive per litter, preweaning mortality rate and number of piglets weaned per sow per year) were recorded for 6 months before vaccination and 6 months after completion of primary vaccination.

Results: In 79.8% of the farms, the clinical presentation of the infection was characterised by a reduced reproductive performance. These findings were confirmed by analysis of the performance parameters, which revealed a significant decline in the return to oestrus rate (p < 0.001), abortion rate (p < 0.001) and preweaning mortality rate (p = 0.023) and a significant increase of the number in piglets born alive (p = 0.001) and piglets weaned per sow per year (p < 0.001) after immunisation. The stillbirth rate did not change significantly.

Conclusion: The present study represents the first attempt to demonstrate the association of influenza A virus infection, vaccination and the alteration in reproductive performance parameters, investigating a large number of cases. The results show that by vaccinating against the influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 virus, an improvement in reproductive performance can be achieved in sow herds infected with pandemic influenza A virus. Additionally, the large number of herds that were affected by poor reproductive performance after infection with the aforementioned virus confirms the assumption of an association between pandemic influenza A virus and reproductive losses.

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