Workshop on a major disease affecting 8 million pigs each year in Europe

May 16, 2003

Brussels, 15 May 2003

PMWS is now recognised as a global epidemic with overall losses in EU countries estimated at between €562 million and €900 million per year.

A workshop held in Brussels on 15 May 2003 brings together researchers, decision-makers, including various Commission services, and other stakeholders, in particular representatives of pig producers. Following an assessment of the economic impact of the disease, the meeting will provide an opportunity to present the results of two major research projects funded by the EU through the Fifth framework programme, which have enabled considerable advances in understanding the disease and provide the basis for vaccine development. The meeting will also strive to enhance international collaboration and examine future research needs.

For pigs, postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) is now recognised as a global epidemic that causes significant economic losses to pig farmers throughout the world. A recently identified virus, porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2), is now regarded as being the causal agent of PMWS. Up to 8 million pigs are affected each year in Europe. Overall losses in EU countries are estimated to be running between €562 million and €900 million per year. New outbreaks of PMWS, with up to 40% losses, continue to be reported on a regular basis in different countries. However, in addition to PMWS, strong evidence from field and experimental studies has also linked PCV2 infection to reproductive problems in pigs and early (post weaning) and late (porcine respiratory disease complex [PRDC]) respiratory disease. In fact the terminology PMWS should probably be replaced with porcine circovirus disease (PCVD).

The European Union recognised this problem early on and made funds available for research through the Fifth Framework programme (1999-2002). Two projects selected for funding in 1999 co-ordinated respectively by Prof. Mariano Domingo of Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona and Dr. Gordon Allan of Queens University Belfast have achieved major advances in understanding the role of PCV2 in the disease; as well as its pathogenesis; epidemiology; prevalence and host range. They have also enabled significant progress in diagnosis and in the development of candidate vaccines.

This initiative has also encouraged active collaboration with US, Canadian and Swiss teams.

The aims of the meeting are:

  • to obtain an overall picture of the disease in the EU and worldwide, including animal welfare, food safety and economic impacts;
  • to update the knowledge of the disease and review results obtained in the framework of the specific research projects funded by the EU;
  • to review international co-operation in this area of research;
  • to address further research needs in the context of FP6.

The meeting takes place in Brussels on 15 May, from 09:30 to 16:00.

Source: Research DG, European Commission

Contact: Stephane.Hogan@cec.eu.int

More information on this subject:

Conference programme

DG Research
http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/research/i ndex_en.html

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