K Projekt PVM

The K Project PVM Preventive Veterinary Medicince strives to strengthen the domestic agriculture and supportive industrial innovators by increasing the effectiveness of preventive concepts used both in animal health and food science in Austria. Cost efficient food supply strongly relies on a high degree of health of the sources from where it is produced from. This is in particular true for smaller countries, where a high-level value chain is a driving factor for a thriving development of the agricultural sector.

The most prevailing preventive concepts in pig nutrition are pig feed safety and the manipulation of the porcine physiology by advanced nutritonal concepts (Project 1 Improving pig health by advanced feeding management). The PVM consortium will combat the impact of feed-associated fungal toxins that cause detrimental effects on pig health after ingestion. The modulation of gut microbiota should allow to reduce the impact of undesired pathogenic microorganisms on disease development and post slaughtering carcass contamination.
Vaccination is the most widely used preventive concept in infectious disease management but the protective effects are biased especially in young animals where the immune system is not fully developed. This is a particular problem in pig chains since fattening pigs are slaughtered in their juvenile phase. The K project consortium will develop novel concepts to boost the immune responses in juvenile animals after vaccination and develop a new basis to judge the level of protection that is the most important point with regard to an efficient and safe applicability of vaccines (Project 2 Improving pig vaccination).
A yet unrealized vision of the PVM consortium to build a bridge from the animal health research to food science thus closing a gap that has been impairing substantial chain integration for decades. The PVM consortium has identified meat inspection as an ankle point that could connect the pre-harvest and the post-harvest area  for the sake of improving the total chain management (Project 3 Improving quality management and quality assurance). Meat inspection outcomes unravel the impact of animal disease, as far as not lethal. Downstream the chain, reporting back to farmers will identify disease hot spots thus stimulating targetted intervention, ideally by improved nutrition or targeted vaccination programs. Upstream the pig production chain, meat inspection outcomes increase or decrease the value of the carcass thus impacting directly on the value chain. Linking the down- and upstream approach should allow to select those meat inspection parameters that are mapping the economical impact of disease most precisely what in turn helps to combat those impacts endangering the production system most dramatically.
The consumers confidence in the safety and quality of a domestic food production system is directly influencing the purchase behaviour thus the economical benefit of a food production system. Violating the aspect of consumer protection is not only adversely influencing the purchase behaviour, it additionally raises the public health burden that is increasing with any occurrence of food-associated human disease. Pork has been identified as a source of zoonotic disease in many studies worldwide. Hepatitis E virus is a pig associated viral pathogen of increasing concern and will therefore be studied by the PVM consortium (Project 4: Improving consumer protection). In terms of bacterial pathogens Salmonella spp. and Yersina enterocolitica are capable of colonizing pigs at significant rates. Therefore special research activities are devoted to characterize the impact of pig production systems on the transmission of the mentioned zoonotic pathogens. Since slaughtering hygiene is pivotal for both pork safety and pork quality a special research focus complementary to the safety issue intends to develop advanced rapid methods capable of monitoring microbial indicators for fecal contamination at or on the slaughterline.

Taking all together the K project consortium has created a research frame of complementary activities
that results in a harmonization of the currently fragmented research landscape in Austria. Comitting academic partners from the University of Veterinary Medicine and the University for Natural Resources and Applied Life Science with nine industrial partners that are drivers of industrial innovation in the four complementary areas animal nutrition, vaccination, hazard/spoilage control and quality assurance creates a yet non-existing national science and innovation space. A special asset of the project is the participation of the largest and most innovative Austrian pig and pork producer. The sustainability of the K project is guaranteed by the commitment of the University of Veterinary Medicine to found a National Pig Research Center in 2013. This National Pig Research Center will coordinate and push forward the integration from then on and stimulate research integration in related food production systems.