Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) has nagged at the pork industry for more than 20 years. While many answers have surfaced, more questions remain.

Research has been the cornerstone in addressing this disease, which updated estimates in 2011 revealed that it costs the U.S. pork industry $664 million annually.

Providing a snapshot of some of the research completed on PRRS, the National Pork Board has a new 40-page PRRS Initiative Research 2004-2011 report, which is accessible here.

The PRRS Initiative Research 2004-2011 report offers a comprehensive reference on the evolution of PRRS research and can help producers and veterinarians develop herd health management strategies, says Lisa Becton, DVM, NPB’s director of swine health information and research.

“Thanks to the breadth of the research that has been gathered in recent years, our understanding of PRRS is increasing by leaps and bounds,” says Becton. She points out that the PRRS Initiative Research program supported by NPB’s Swine Health Committee has funded 123 projects through the National Pork Checkoff totaling more than $10 million since 2004.

“There are definite things producers can do to control PRRS from getting in their operation,” Becton notes.

The PRRS Initiative Research 2004-2011 report addresses five key areas:

1.) Immunology and vaccine development-- Focuses on creating alternative approaches for vaccine development and improving herd health management in herds with multiple health challenges.

2.) Epidemiology, risk factors and control strategies-- Offers biosecurity tips to help control PRRS, such as using filtration to prevent PRRS infection.

3.) Diagnostic tests and PRRS surveillance-- Becton notes that researchers have made great strides in detecting new and emerging strains of PRRS virus, such as simpler methods of PRRS sample collection and improved diagnostics that provide faster results.

4.) Regional elimination-- Controlling PRRS begins with proven, biosecurity basics, starting with the Production Animal Disease Risk Assessment Program (PADRAP) risk-assessment program, which helps producers identify their potential risk for getting a disease in their swine herd. This section also addresses the development of a standardized geographical mapping program for herd status.

5.) Genetic resistance to disease-- Researchers have made numerous advancements in discovering and verifying genotypes and phenotypes that can predict susceptibility and/or resistance to PRRS virus infection. The report highlights the ongoing and broad collaboration between university researchers, government, swine breeding companies and other organizations who are studying the genetics of disease resistance and overall pig health.

“While we’re learning a great deal about how the virus operates within the body and evades the immune system, there’s still a great deal more that needs to be studied,” Becton says. “The pork checkoff’s continued investments in PRRS research will be critical for managing this disease.”

To further advance industry knowledge of PRRS research and solutions, Pork magazine presented a free webinar, featuring world renown PRRS expert, Scott Dee, DVM, research director at the Pipestone Veterinary Clinic in Pipestone, Minn. You may access the free seminar, sponsorted by Boerhinger Ingelheim here.