February 11, 2011
Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, now known as PRRS, has created a ruckus in Indiana this winter. The Indiana Board of Animal Health held a meeting of concerned producers and veterinarians to discuss the disease.
"As I look at my family's farrow-to-finish operation," says Mark Legan, Coatesville, at the meeting, "PRRS scares me more than $8 per bushel corn. I think it's time for BOAH to take the lead. We maybe aren't ready for regulation, but we can at least get started down the road so herds like ours that are negative can stay negative until we are ready down the road to talk about eradicating PRRS."
Veterinarians Thomas Gillespie, Rensselaer, and John Baker, Boonville, both believe from their experiences with PRRS-infected herds that PRRS can be eradicated down the road. But they both say the pork industry is not yet ready for such an undertaking.
The last swine disease that was eradicated in the U.S and around the country was pseudorabies. It cost producers untold dollars in the late '80s and '90s because sometimes expensive breeding stock had to be depopulated. That disease was thought to be transmitted from farm to farm by such means as birds transmitting the virus from one place to another.
Purdue University Vet School professor Sandy Amass noted PRRS is different in several ways from psuedorabies. The PRRS virus is more fragile, and does not survive well outside of the living pig, she explains. That makes it easier than pseudorabies to contain.
However, unlike pseudorabies, PRRS virus mutates into different strains. As a result, pigs with immunity to one strain can be susceptible to a new strain. And, vaccines must be adapted to new strains.
What producers want to know now is what they can do to prevent it form infecting their herd if they don't have it already. Some of the solutions could prove expensive, especially if you elected to move locations. Long distances, two miles or more, are one solution to keep it form spreading from finishing units to sow units.
The top three actions you can take to keep PRRS from your hogs, said Amass, are (1) locate your hog buildings in an area of low hog density, at least two miles from the nearest hog operation or its manure; 2) test and monitor the health status of all genetics you bring into your herd to be sure they are free of PRRS; and (3) control access to your hog facilities.
Learn more about this disease and the issues related to it in the March issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine, due out in just a few days.
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