Porcine semen as a vector for transmission of viral pathogens.
Maes D., Van Soom A., Appeltant R., Arsenakis I., Nauwynck H.
Different viruses have been detected in porcine semen. Some of them are on the list of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and consequently, these pathogens are of socioeconomic and/or public health importance and are of major importance in the international trade of animals and animal products. Artificial insemination (AI) is one of the most commonly used assisted reproductive technologies in pig production worldwide. This extensive use has enabled pig producers to benefit from superior genetics at a lower cost compared to natural breeding. However, the broad distribution of processed semen doses for field AI has increased the risk of widespread transmission of swine viral pathogens. Contamination of semen can be due to infections of the boar or can occur during semen collection, processing, and storage. It can result in reduced semen quality, embryonic mortality, endometritis, and systemic infection and/or disease in the recipient female. The presence of viral pathogens in semen can be assessed by demonstration of viable virus, nucleic acid of virus, or indirectly by measuring serum antibodies in the boar. The best way to prevent disease transmission via the semen is to assure that the boars in AI centers are free from the disease, to enforce very strict biosecurity protocols, and to perform routine health monitoring of boars. Prevention of viral semen contamination should be the primary focus because it is easier to prevent contamination than to eliminate viruses once present in semen. Nevertheless, research and development of novel semen processing treatments such as single-layer centrifugation is ongoing and may allow in the future to decontaminate semen.