Serological surveillance and factors associated with influenza A virus in backyard pigs in Southern Brazil

Backyard pig populations are not monitored for influenza A virus (IAV) in Brazil and there are limited data about seroprevalence and risk factors in these populations. Our goal was to assess possible factors associated with IAV seroprevalence in backyard pig populations using an indirect ELISA protocol based on a recombinant nucleoprotein. Following the IAV screening using NP-ELISA, subtype-specific serology based on hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay of the ELISA-positive pigs was conducted. The survey comprised a total of 1,667 sera samples collected in 2012 and 2014 in 479 holdings and the estimated seroprevalence was 5.3% (3.84%-7.33%) and 2.3% (1.34%-3.71%) in the respective years. In both years, H1N1pdm09 was the most prevalent subtype. The multivariable analysis showed main factors such as "age," "sex," "number of suckling pigs" and "neighbours raising pigs" that presented the greatest effect on IAV seroprevalence in these pig populations. These factors may be associated with the low biosecurity measures and management of backyard holdings. In addition, the low IAV seroprevalences found in these backyard pig populations could be related to a low number of animals in each pig holding and low animal movement/replacement that do not favour IAV transmission dynamics. This low frequency of H1N1pdm09 seropositive pigs could also be due to sporadic human-to-pig transmission of what is now a human seasonal influenza A virus; however, these factors should be explored in future studies. Herein, these results highlight the importance of IAV continued surveillance in backyard pig holdings, since it is poorly known which IAVs are circulating in these populations and the risk they could pose to public health and virus transmission to commercial farms.