Author(s): Andraud M, Casas M, Pavio N, Rose N
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Abstract Passive immunity (PI), acquired through colostrum intake, is essential for piglet protection against pathogens. Maternally-derived antibodies (MDAs) can decrease the transmission of pathogens between individuals by reducing shedding from infected animals and/or susceptibility of naïve animals. Only a limited number of studies, however, have been carried out to quantify the level of protection conferred by PI in terms of transmission. In the present study, an original modeling framework was designed to estimate parameters governing the transmission of infectious agents in the presence and absence of PI. This epidemiological model accounts for the distribution of PI duration and two different forces of infection depending on the serological status of animals after colostrum intake. A Bayesian approach (Metropolis-Hastings algorithm) was used for parameter estimation. The impact of PI on hepatitis E virus transmission in piglets was investigated using longitudinal serological data from six pig farms. A strong impact of PI was highlighted, the efficiency of transmission being on average 13 times lower in piglets with maternally-derived antibodies than in fully susceptible animals (range: 5-21). Median infection-free survival ages, based on herd-specific estimates, ranged between 8.7 and 13.8 weeks in all but one herd. Indeed, this herd exhibited a different profile with a relatively low prevalence of infected pigs (50\% at slaughter age) despite the similar proportions of passively immune individuals after colostrum intake. These results suggest that the age at HEV infection is not strictly dependent upon the proportion of piglets with PI but is also linked to farm-specific husbandry (mingling of piglets after weaning) and hygiene practices. The original methodology developed here, using population-based longitudinal serological data, was able to demonstrate the relative impact of MDAs on the transmission of infectious agents.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research