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Maternally Derived Immunity Extends Swine Influenza A Virus Persistence within Farrow-to-Finish Pig Farms: Insights from a Stochastic Event-Driven Metapopulation Model.

Abstract

Swine Influenza A Viruses (swIAVs) have been shown to persist in farrow-to-finish pig herds with repeated outbreaks in successive batches, increasing the risk for respiratory disorders in affected animals and being a threat for public health. Although the general routes of swIAV transmission (i.e. direct contact and exposure to aerosols) were clearly identified, the transmission process between batches is still not fully understood. Maternally derived antibodies (MDAs) were stressed as a possible factor favoring within-herd swIAV persistence. However, the relationship between MDAs and the global spread among the different subpopulations in the herds is still lacking. The aim of this study was therefore to understand the mechanisms induced by MDAs in relation with swIAV spread and persistence in farrow-to-finish pig herds. A metapopulation model has been developed representing the population dynamics considering two subpopulations-breeding sows and growing pigs-managed according to batch-rearing system. This model was coupled with a swIAV-specific epidemiological model, accounting for partial passive immunity protection in neonatal piglets and an immunity boost in re-infected animals. Airborne transmission was included by a between-room transmission rate related to the current prevalence of shedding pigs. Maternally derived partial immunity in piglets was found to extend the duration of the epidemics within their batch, allowing for efficient between-batch transmission and resulting in longer swIAV persistence at the herd level. These results should be taken into account in the design of control programmes for the spread and persistence of swIAV in swine herds.

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