Dr. Jim Lowe, Lowe Consulting, session moderator for BIVI-sponsored session of 2014 North American PRRS Symposium.
Dr. Jim Lowe, Lowe Consulting, session moderator for BIVI-sponsored session of 2014 North American PRRS Symposium.

Coordinating our Efforts for Area  Disease Control was the theme for the Friday session of the 2014 North American PRRS Symposium held recently for swine veterinarians in Chicago. The Friday session, moderated by Jim Lowe, DVM, Lowe Consulting, provided a forum for swine health industry leaders to share the latest field and research information regarding porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS). More importantly, the symposium focused on lessons that can be applied from area regional control (ARC) programs and the system-based control strategies that result in more consistent PRRS control. Presenters also highlighted several new disease information and communications tools that make knowledge sharing faster and easier.

Joe Connor, DVM, MS, Carthage Veterinary Services, kicked off the afternoon program by providing a historical comparison of pseudorabies virus (Aujesky’s disease) control and eradication programs and the lessons learned that can be applied to PRRSv control and elimination. “What we learned from PRV was that it takes strong cooperation from all producers, industry and stakeholders, plus herd cleanup plans, effective vaccines and other tools, and funding from various sources to be successful in eliminating disease,” Conner explains. “The success we’ve seen in PRRS ARC projects the last few years indicates that PRRS in an area can be cost-effectively controlled and possibly eliminated.”

John Kolb, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., reviewed the results of a large-scale system-based PRRS control study involving four breeding herds totaling 124,000 sows and respective pig flows. In these large systems, the use of MLV vaccine in pigs, replacement gilts and breeding herds, along with herd closure, resulted in significant improvement in PRRS stability and pig performance.

“The four system-based PRRS control projects demonstrated that the diligent implementation of a load, close and vaccinate strategy can stabilize PRRS in the populations, reduce virus circulation among pigs, improve average daily gain in the nursery and finisher and reduce mortality consistently and cost effectively,” Kolb states. “It’s also about focusing on the production teams at different levels – the sow farm team, the nursery team and finishing teams – and helping them to understand how PRRs virus acts in their population and the things that they could do to impact that.”

Other presentations at the PRRS Symposium included Andres Perez, DVM, PhD, University of Minnesota, who identified three areas of PRRS epidemiology where knowledge gaps exist and more research work is needed. Perez specifically discussed the areas of historical PRRS incidence levels, molecular epidemiology and accurately measuring the genetic diversity of PRRS virus; and space-time-geographic modeling of PRRS transmission and the socio-economic factors that may influence virus spread.

In addition, Enrique Mondaca, DVM, PhD, and Erin Lowe, DVM, both with BIVI, reviewed many of the diagnostic, information and communications-sharing tools available to producers and veterinarians to help them to more effectively control PRRSv in their areas and systems. Erin Lowe demonstrated Smart phone apps that make it easier for veterinarians and managers to enter herd and disease data and share with others using the iFormBuilder app from Zerion Software™ as an example.  

“Our success in controlling PRRS and other diseases all starts with the ability to collect and access accurate information and share it with others,” Erin Lowe explains. “Digital information dashboards such as BioPortal and data collecting tools like iFormBuilder make it much easier to collect, access and share information in near real-time. When dealing with diseases like PRRS that move quickly and across large areas, having access to information, along with diagnostics, effective vaccines, and the knowledge on how to best apply them, can have a tremendous impact on a producer’s ability to successfully control it,” she adds.

At the conclusion of the symposium, the presenters answered questions and provided additional insights into coordinated efforts for area-wide and system-wide PRRS control. The main takeaway, according to moderator Jim Lowe: “Never before has the pork industry had as much research, diagnostic capabilities, information and vaccines available to control this disease. But it doesn’t do the industry any good if these resources are not fully utilized by all producers in an area. That’s where it all starts.”

Copies of all the presentations from the 2014 North American PRRS Symposium will be archived at www.SwineCast.com and additional interviews with the veterinarians can be found at agwired.com.

For more information on Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., visit www.bi-vetmedica.com.