The natural history of porcine circovirus type 2: from an inoffensive virus to a devastating swine disease?
Porcine circovirus-2 (PCV-2) is an emerging virus associated with a number of different syndromes in pigs known as Porcine Circovirus Associated Diseases (PCVAD). Since its identification and characterization in the early 1990s, PCV-2 has achieved a worldwide distribution, becoming endemic in most pig-producing countries, and is currently considered as the main cause of losses on pig farms. In this study, we analyzed the main routes of the spread of PCV-2 between pig-producing countries using phylogenetic and phylogeographical approaches. A search for PCV-2 genome sequences in GenBank was performed, and the 420 PCV-2 sequences obtained were grouped into haplotypes (group of sequences that showed 100% identity), based on the infinite sites model of genome evolution. A phylogenetic hypothesis was inferred by Bayesian Inference for the classification of viral strains and a haplotype network was constructed by Median Joining to predict the geographical distribution of and genealogical relationships between haplotypes. In order to establish an epidemiological and economic context in these analyses, we considered all information about PCV-2 sequences available in GenBank, including papers published on viral isolation, and live pig trading statistics available on the UN Comtrade database (http://comtrade.un.org/). In these analyses, we identified a strong correlation between the means of PCV-2 dispersal predicted by the haplotype network and the statistics on the international trading of live pigs. This correlation provides a new perspective on the epidemiology of PCV-2, highlighting the importance of the movement of animals around the world in the emergence of new pathogens, and showing the need for effective sanitary barriers when trading live animals.