Objective—To evaluate the influences of animal age, bacterial coinfection, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) isolate pathogenicity on virus concentration in pigs.
Animals—Twenty-one 2-month-old pigs and eighteen 6-month-old pigs.
Procedure—Pigs were grouped according to age and infected with mildly virulent or virulent isolates of PRRSV. The role of concurrent bacterial infection was assessed by infecting selected pigs with Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae 21 days prior to inoculation with PRRSV. On alternating days, blood and swab specimens of nasal secretions and oropharyngeal secretions were collected. On day 21 after inoculation with PRRSV, selected tissues were harvested. Concentrations of PRRSV were determined by use of quantitative real-time PCR and expressed in units of TCID50 per milliliter (sera and swab specimens) or TCID50 per gram (tissue specimens).
Results—Concentrations of virus were higher in blood and tonsils of pigs infected with virulent PRRSV. Pigs infected with virulent PRRSV and M hyopneumoniae had significantly higher concentrations of viral RNA in lymphoid and tonsillar tissue. Coinfection with M hyopneumoniae resulted in a higher viral load in oropharyngeal swab specimens and blood samples, independent of virulence of the PRRSV isolate. Two-month-old pigs had significantly higher viral loads in lymph nodes, lungs, and tracheal swab specimens than did 6-month-old pigs, independent of virulence of the PRRSV isolate.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Multiple factors affect PRRSV concentration in pigs, including pathogenicity of the PRRSV isolate, age, and concurrent infection with M hyopneumoniae.