During a 2-month period a newly repopulated Danish pig herd experienced an increase in numbers of stillborn and mummies, caused by porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) associated reproductive failure. Based on recordings of data over time, the progression of the clinical outbreak was studied and the diagnostic value of different techniques was evaluated. Foetal hearts (38 cases and 13 controls) were examined by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the detection of PCV2; and total immunoglobulin G (IgG) was measured in pleura cavity fluid. PCV2 IHC was positive in 14/38 of the case foetuses, which were delivered during a 9 days period early in the outbreak. On the basis of the results obtained by IHC and PCR, the foetuses were divided into 3 categories: PCV2 negative; moderately positive (10(4) to 10(7) copies per 500 ng DNA); and massively positive for PCV2 (>10(7) copies per 500 ng DNA). All control- and IHC positive foetuses were included in the negative and massively positive groups, respectively. Ten case foetuses had elevated IgG levels, which did not correlate with the IHC or PCR results. Based on the clustering of the IHC positive foetuses, it is suggested that IHC only is suited for diagnosing acute stages of reproductive failure, whereas quantitative PCR can be used as a sensitive diagnostic method within a wider time span. It seems that IgG measurements are unpredictable as indication of intrauterine infection with PCV2.
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