Effect of circovirus vaccination on immune responses, viral load, and growth performance of pigs under field conditions



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Kansas State University


Vaccination against porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) has become a standard practice to improve pig mortality and growth rate in PCV2-affected herds. Unfortunately, there has been little field-based research evaluating factors which affect circovirus vaccination. The focus of this research was on potential vaccination-affecting factors such as age, dosing strategy, pig genetic makeup, and interaction with other vaccines. A total of 6,275 pigs were used to determine factors which affect circovirus vaccination and the effects of vaccination on average daily gain (ADG), immune responses, and viral circulation under field conditions. In the first study evaluating circovirus vaccination effects on PCV2 antibody titer, regardless of age and dose administration protocol, pigs vaccinated with a 2-dose circovirus vaccine had increased (P ≤ 0.008) antibody titers compared with non-vaccinates. In a second study, dosing strategy failed (P = 0.31) to affect antibody titers. However, product and time after vaccination did affect (P = 0.005) antibody titers. In another 130-d study across the nursery and finishing phases, pigs vaccinated with a 2-dose circovirus vaccine had decreased (P < 0.001) serum PCV2 viral load compared with non-vaccinates and ADG of vaccinates was better than non-vaccinates. However, the effect was more pronounced (vaccination-by-genetic interaction, P ≤ 0.05) in Duroc-based compared to Pietrain-based pigs. In a study limited to the nursery phase, vaccination for PCV2 and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae independently reduced ADG and consumption, but the effect was product-dependent. In a 155-d study across the nursery and finishing phases, vaccination with a 2-dose, 2-vaccine program for PCV2 and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae decreased (P < 0.001) nursery ADG but tended to increase (P = 0.06) finishing ADG compared to a 1-dose, 2-vaccine program, with no difference (P = 0.66) observed between final pig weights. Finally, circovirus vaccination affected PCV2-circulation in high-health research herds but not in a commercial herd where PCV2 DNA was detected in the environment. These results indicate that finishing performance was improved by a 2-dose circovirus vaccine; however, nursery performance was negatively affected by the same product. Circovirus vaccination responses of growth, viral load, and antibody titer were affected by pig genetic makeup, product, and PCV2-exposure status.



Antibody, Genetics, Growth performance, Nursery pig, Porcine circovirus type 2, Vaccine

Graduation Month



Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology

Major Professor

Steven S. Dritz