USDA will renew funding for the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome Coordinated Agricultural Project. USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service will invest $4.8 million over the next four years to reduce animal suffering and decrease economic loss from PRRS, which affects 60 percent of U.S. swine herds and costs the swine industry $580 million annually.

"A new strain of highly pathogenic PRRS has been found in China and Vietnam and is implicated as the primary cause of Porcine High Fever Disease, resulting in the death of large numbers of swine," said Gale Buchanan, USDA under secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. "Renewal of the PRRS project responds to the urgent need to make sure the right tools are available to keep this foreign strain from affecting the U.S. swine population."

CSREES originally funded the project with the University of Minnesota in 2004, involving scientists, veterinarians and pork producers to develop innovative strategies to reduce the impact of PRRS.

The second phase of the PRRS CAP will be led by Kansas State University. It will focus on PRRS prevention and control tools. Other objectives will be to increase the knowledge needed to support scientists, apply existing and new technologies in regional disease eradication efforts and to develop educational and outreach programs.

To date, the PRRS CAP project has focused on understanding how the disease works and developing an effective vaccine and other tools for controlling infection. Recent findings now provide guidelines for maintenance of PRRS-free herds without the use of vaccination.

PRRS, which first appeared in the United States in 1986, spreads easily among herds and is found worldwide and in all major swine producing areas of the United States.

The institutions and organizations participating in the PRRS CAP include Kansas State University, Iowa State University, National Pork Board, Ohio State University, North Carolina State University, South Dakota State University, Universidad Autonoma (Madrid, Spain), University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of Veterinary Medicine (Vienna, Austria), USDA's Agricultural Research Service's Plum Island Disease Center, the ARS Beltsville Area Research Center, the ARS National Animal Disease Center, and Virginia Tech.