While porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is still costing the U.S. pork industry about $1.8 million per day, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future, says Derald Holtkamp, DVM, Iowa State University. The comments were made at the Iowa State University Swine Day held last week in Ames.

Holtkamp is optimistic that the industry will continue making progress against the disease by using recent innovations in battling the PRRS virus. He points to regional PRRS virus elimination programs and herd closure and rollover methodology as positive steps in eliminating the virus.

The herd closure and rollover method of eliminating the PRRS virus has a high rate of success when done properly and it costs about $10 to $40 per sow, according to Holtkamp. By comparison, the depopulation-repopulation method costs about $250 to $500 per sow, he estimates.

“The PRRS virus is extremely adaptable and each time we think we’re winning, it proves us wrong,” says Holtkamp. “We now know how to eliminate the PRRS virus from individual herds but we can’t keep them negative indefinitely.”

Constant improvement in farm biosecurity is critical to maintain progress against the virus, Holtkamp says. “Producers need to take biosecurity protocols to go to the next level in PRRS prevention.” In addition to bio-exclusion, efforts also must include bio-management and bio-containment, he adds.

The Production Animal Disease Risk Assessment Program, (PADRAP) is a survey-based online resource that can be used to evaluate a producer’s biosecurity protocols, adds Holtkamp. “The program can help inform producers about possible weaknesses in their biosecurity.” Holtkamp points to filtration of incoming barn air and innovative techniques such as testing of oral fluids for diagnosis of PRRS as additional reasons for optimism in fighting the disease.

“While we cannot say we’re winning the battle against the PRRS virus yet, we can be optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction,” Holtkamp says. “Two initiatives that will help greatly in winning the battle against PRRS are the regional virus elimination programs and increased emphasis on upgrading on-farm biosecurity efforts.”