Quality and feasibility of pen-site tests for surveillance

Dr. Gerard Martin

Departament de Sanitat i Anatomia Animals
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) Campus UAB
08193  Bellaterra, Spain


Gerard E. Martín Valls obtained his veterinary degree in 2007 and Ph.D in veterinary sciences in 2012 in the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). He was researcher in the Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA-IRTA) from 2013 to 2016. Currently, he is a researcher in Animal Health and Anatomy Department of UAB. His research focuses on the epidemiology, molecular characterization and control of with swine viral infectious diseases such as swine influenza and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome.


In pig production, surveillance of diseases is essential for decision making. It allows to determine the infection dynamics of pathogens present in the farm, helping thus to determine what control and prevention programs are needed and what measures must be prioritized. Further monitoring will be necessary to determine the efficacy of implemented control measures.
Pen-site testing for surveillance is cost-effective, reduce the time and personnel needed for sample collection, and are more efficient than pooling individual samples as larger populations are examined. The use of aggregated or pooled samples is very sensitive for monitoring presence of pathogens or antibodies. However, limitations must be considered. The age of the animals is important to select the type of pen-site sampling. Sequencing is possible but higher concentrations of the pathogen are needed and results can be difficult to interpret. Finally, detecting a pathogen in a pen-site test should not be used for diagnosis purposes, respiratory and digestive virome and microbiota are extremely complex.