Boosting natural immunity with FRA C12

New findings reveal that FRA C12, known for its antiviral activity, could help support the animals’ natural body defences. FRA C12 improved sow and piglet performance on a farm suffering from a severe PRRSv outbreak. The addition of FRA C12 to the diet resulted in a reduced pre-weaning mortality, lower use of medication and significantly reduced PRRSv shedding in weaned piglets.

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv) is still one of the most relevant viruses affecting pig farming, causing variable clinical signs. Sow farmers commonly face a substantial increase of abortions, number of stillbirths, pre-weaning mortality and respiratory diseases in weaners and growers. In addition, in PRRSv-infected pigs the susceptibility to secondary bacterial or viral infections increases dramatically. For instance, concurrent infections with Streptococcus suis are often reported. The prevalence of secondary infections together with direct losses caused by PRRSv are the reason for the major economic impact of this viral syndrome.

The importance to boost natural immunity

Enough reason for pig producers, veterinarians and nutritionists to search for strategies to control or eliminate the virus from infected herds. Adapting farm management and implementing biosecurity measures is crucial to control the disease to a certain level and can be supported by vaccination. However, on ‘problem’ farms, a strategy with feed additives that supports natural body defences might be necessary to control PRRS.

Direct and indirect antiviral effect

Besides their antibacterial effect, research suggests that lauric acid and its glycerides (main components of FRA C12) have antiviral properties specifically against persistent fat-enveloped viruses, like HIV, Influenza virus and PRRSv. Lauric acid glycerides attack the viral lipid membrane causing severe leakage. Higher concentrations can lead to the complete breakdown of the viral envelope and the viral particles.

Research shows that FRA C12 has a modulatory impact on the host inflammatory responses. In broilers, FRA C12 has also shown to increase the level of antibodies against the highly contagious virus disease Infectious Bronchitis (IB). Therefore, it can be concluded that lauric acid glycerides strengthen the immune response and show direct antiviral effects, explaining their increasing popularity at farms facing viral challenges.

Results

In a trial, pre-weaning mortality was reduced from 14.1% in the control group to 10.0% in the treatment group; a reduction of 29 percent. The researchers also measured the severity of the PRRSv infection by screening saliva on virus excretion. A week after weaning, 20% of the pens in the control group were tested positive for PRRSv. This increased to even 70% at day 37 after weaning, indicating a serious infection. In the treatment group 10% of the pens were tested positive for PRRSv after 7 days, which was only slightly increased to 20% at day 37.

Next to the problems with PRRSv, the farm struggled with locomotor problems in weaned piglets most likely due to Streptococcus suis infections. Interestingly, in this trial weaned piglets in the treatment group received a lower number of individual injections against locomotor problems as compared to the control group: 1.9 versus 3.2 treatments/100 piglets respectively.

FRA C12 seems to be an interesting and promising tool assisting in the viral clearance of PRRSv and in controlling the risk for secondary infections in PRRSv-positive pigs.

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