5 Ways PRRS Made Us Better

 

Jennifer Shike, FarmJournal's Pork 

November 26, 2019

 

Although porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome (PRRS) is not a new disease, it continues to affect pig farmers and is the No. 1 cause of economic impact in the U.S. swine industry. Still, industry experts say the disease has made us better.

 

“PRRS has challenged us for sure,” says Reid Philips, DVM and PRRS technical manager for Boehringer Ingelheim. “It has made us work harder, but along the way, it has made us better in all areas of management and biosecurity.”

 

An ongoing Pork Checkoff PRRS project, conducted through Iowa State University by Dr. Derald Holtkamp, provides semi-annual updates on the disease’s cost to the U.S. swine herd. Based on a five-year moving average, annual productivity losses due to PRRS fell $83.3 million from October 2010 ($663.91 million) to October 2016 ($580.62 million), according to a 2017 interim report. According to the National Pork Board’s strategic plan, the industry’s goal is to decrease PRRS’ impact 20% by 2020 from the 2010 baseline to $531.13 million.

 

“This decrease is evidence of our ability to apply what we have learned and improve our efforts to control PRRS,” Philips says. “It signifies an improved understanding and application of tools to control PRRS virus on the farm – vaccination protocols, biosecurity protocols, pig flow protocols and other management protocols – those things that are targeted at controlling virus on the farm are paying dividends and are working. That’s good news.”

 

There’s no question PRRS strengthened biosecurity in the U.S., says Montserrat Torremorell, DVM and associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Not only did it help producers improve methods to keep disease out, but it also taught the industry valuable lessons to help the fight against all diseases.

 

1.    PRRS improved communication ...

 

2.    PRRS fostered benchmarking ...

 

3.    PRRS developed new tools for the toolbox ...

 

4.    PRRS reinforced that immunity matters ...

 

5.    PRRS taught people to think beyond the pathogen ...

 

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