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Disease Information

PCVD and PCV2 Vaccination Options

Porcine circovirus type 2 ( PCV2) is the essential causative agent of post-weaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome (PMWS), a multi factorial syndrome affecting pigs worldwide. PCV2 has also strongly been associated with pneumonia, enteritis, and reproductive failures, commonly called Porcine Circovirus Diseases ( PCVD) ( Allan and Ellis, 2000). Whether Porcine dermatitis and nephropathy syndrome (PDNS) is caused by PCV2 has not yet been definitely established. The PCV2 virus is a very stable virus and it is also resistant to the common disinfectants. Transmission of the virus could be vertically (sow to its fetus) & horizontally (e.g. pig to pig contact & insemination).

Time of Infection and Target Cells*

Pigs are in contact with the virus all along - from the sow’s womb up to their death (slaughter or culling). Gametes are apparently not sensitive to PCV2 infection ( Mateusen, 2007), but as soon as thezona pellucida has been removed from the embryo,ALL their cells appear to become susceptible to the PCV2 infection (Mateusen, 2004). Target cells of PCV2 change depending on the age of infection. During the major part of gestation, the most sensitive cells are hepatocytes (liver cells) and cardiomyocytes (heart cells); this is why the liver and the heart are important organs for PCV2 histopathological diagnosis in abortion cases ( Sanchez, 2003). Just before farrowing and up to the first weeks of the piglet’s life, the susceptibility of the liver & heart cells start to decline as the virus favors the piglets’ IMMUNE CELLS. Piglets’ immune cells particularly the macrophages and dendritic cells become the major target cells of PCV2 at this age and unprotected piglets may become “immune-compromised”. Later in life, macrophages and dendritic cells seem to become less sensitive while the virus predilection changes to the parechymal & epithelial cells ( Joisel et al, 2011).

Figure 1. PCV2 target cells are changing over the pig lifespan.

The basis of PCV2 vaccinations*

The vaccination program strategy against PCV2 should be based on protecting the whole herd: safeguard the embryos, the developing fetus inside the sow and protect the immune system of the pig in its most critical period which is during the first weeks of life. Early exposure to PCV2 of unprotected piglets may lead to the impairment of the immune system. On the other hand, protecting piglets early in life e.g. as early as day 1, via the colostrum of vaccinated sows, will save the piglets immune cells and soon these piglets with mature, undamaged immune system when re-exposed to PCV2 ( after the decline of maternal antibodies) can now mount an active immune response against the virus which could last up to the end of fattening period. Piglet vaccination may be useful when the PCV2 pressure is high all along their life, i.e. at the beginning of PCV2 vaccination in the herd or in some critical epidemiological situations.

The Three Vaccination Options with CIRCOVAC®

  • Assault Program (piglet vaccination) –For piglet protection from weaning to slaughter. To get fast result at the start of PCV2 vaccination.
  • Complete Program (Sow plus piglet vaccination) –For maximum herd security. To improve reproductive performance of breeders, to give protection to piglets as early as day 1 & to reduce viral load in the farm by targeting the permanent carrier/ shedders breeders. Active immunization of both breeders and piglets while the breeding herd is being stabilized and management are corrected.
  • Basic Program ( Breeder vaccination) – For the best return on investment. To improve farm efficiency, to improve reproductive performance of breeders, to reduce viral load in the farm & to provide protection to porkers. Active immunization of breeders coupled with good farm management & sufficient colostrum intake of piglets.

CIRCOVAC® is a killed vaccine and the only PCV2 vaccine registered for breeders worldwide, making CIRCOVAC® the single PCV2 vaccine registered for both sows and piglets. The dosage of CIRCOVAC® for breeders is 2 ml per head before each farrowing and it is proven to improve reproductive performance, reduce lost days, reduce stillbirth and mummification & improve weaned piglets per sow per year by as much as 1.6 additional piglets (T. P. Tang et al (2009) 4th APVS, Tsukuba, Japan). Vaccinating sows with CIRCOVAC® also protects its piglets against PCV2 infection as early as day 1 via the transfer of maternal antibodies and immune cells thru colostrum. CIRCOVAC® is also registered for piglets at 0.5 ml per head. This piglet dose has passed the criteria set by authorities here and abroad and is proven to reduce mortalities in piglets, decrease the occurrence of runts, improve growth rate and the overall performance of piglets.

PCV2 is able to hamper performances of all age groups in the farm. It is necessary to protect embryos and fetuses, piglets, gilts, sows and boars. Management and vaccination are both of pivotal importance to obtain the full control of PCV2 detrimental effects. CIRCOVAC® is the only vaccine dedicated to whole herd protection.