Sporadic influenza A virus (IAV) outbreaks in humans and swine have resulted from commingling of large numbers of people and pigs at agricultural fairs in the United States. Current antemortem IAV surveillance strategies in swine require collecting nasal swabs, which entails restraining pigs with snares. Restraint is labor-intensive for samplers, stressful for pigs, and displeasing to onlookers because pigs often resist and vocalize.
To evaluate the utility of snout wipes in exhibition swine as a method to make IAV surveillance efforts less intrusive, less labor-intensive, and more widely accepted among pig owners and exhibition officials.
Three materials (rayon/polyester gauze, cotton gauze, and Swiffer(®) Sweeper dry cloths) were inoculated with IAV, and viral recoveries from these materials were quantified using qRT-PCR and TCID50 assays. In a field trial, paired cotton gauze snout wipes and gold standard polyester-tipped nasal swabs were collected from 553 pigs representing 29 agricultural fairs and the qualitative results of rRT-PCR and viral isolation were compared.
Viral recoveries from potential snout wipe materials ranged from 0.26 to 1.59 log10 TCID50 /ml less than that of the positive control in which no substrate was included; rayon/polyester gauze performed significantly worse than the other materials. In the field, snout wipes and nasal swabs had high levels of agreement for both rRT-PCR detection and virus isolation. Although further investigation and refinement of the sampling method is needed, results indicate that snout wipes will facilitate convenient and undisruptive IAV surveillance in pigs at agricultural fairs.
Utility of Snout Wipe Samples for Influenza a Virus Surveillance in Exhibition Swine Populations. JL Edwards et al. Influenza Other Respir Viruses 8 (5), 574-579. 2014 Jul 10.