Rotavirus C: prevalence in suckling piglets and development of virus-like particles to assess the influence of maternal immunity on the disease development

Research poster
Juliet Chepngeno
Anastasia Vlasova

Rotavirus C (RVC) has been detected increasingly in humans and swine in different countries, including the US. It is associated with significant economic losses due to diarrheal disease in nursing piglets. In this study we aimed: (1) to determine the prevalence of RVC in healthy and diarrheic suckling piglets on US farms; and (2) to evaluate if maternal antibody (Ab) levels were associated with protection of newborn suckling piglets against RVC. There was a significantly higher prevalence (p = 0.0002) of litters with diarrhea born to gilts compared with those born to multiparous sows. Of 113 nursing piglet fecal samples tested, 76.1% were RVC RNA positive. Fecal RVC RNA was detected in significantly (p = 0.0419) higher quantities and more frequently in piglets with diarrhea compared with healthy ones (82.5 vs. 69.9%). With the exception of the historic strain Cowden (G1 genotype), field RVC strains do not replicate in cell culture, which is a major impediment for studying RVC pathogenesis and immunity. To circumvent this, we generated RVC virus-like particles (VLPs) for Cowden (G1), RV0104 (G3) and RV0143 (G6) and used them as antigens in ELISA to detect swine RVC Abs in serum and milk from the sows. Using RVC-VLP Ab ELISA we demonstrated that sows with diarrheic litters had significantly lower RVC IgA and IgG Ab titers in milk compared to those with healthy litters. Thus, our data suggest that insufficient lactogenic protection provided by gilts plays a key role in the development of and the increased prevalence of clinical RVC disease.