Bat-Sourced Coronavirus Causing Problems in China’s Pigs

The bat enteric coronavirus strain HKU2, identified in Guangdong and Hong Kong in 2004 and 2006, has recently moved from bats to pigs in China, according to the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC). The strain causes severe piglet diarrhea and mortality.

“Some specific mutations in the spike protein of the novel virus, tentatively called swine enteric alphacoronavirus (SeACoV), are presumably responsible for it being able to jump from bats to pigs,” states a report from SHIC. The Center has gathered information to inform the SHIC Monitoring and Analysis Working Group and help them reach a consensus for guidance about next steps.

“Published papers (available for review here and here) and contacts in China indicated there were several pig farms in one region suffering from piglet diarrhea in the first half of 2017, resulting in serious piglet loss,” SHIC reports. “Affected piglets on two farms showed morbidity and mortality to the same extent as when PED reemerged there in 2010.”

SHIC is gathering information from allied industry on the outbreak in China as well. It says Chinese groups are continuing research, running deep sequencing on field samples and providing further resources and information on the outbreak as it is being monitored.

Because current information shows there has not yet been region-to-region spread in China, SHIC reports that the working group’s consensus was to closely monitor the situation “but not devote resources for diagnostics or to further investigate this virus unless there develops evidence of interregional spread in China, indicating this is more than an isolated incident.”