Significant strides have been made in controlling porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus since Ingelvac PRRS MLV vaccine was introduced in 1994, but there is still a lot of work left to be done in controlling the virus. Staff members from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. (BIVI) discussed at World Pork Expo the advancements made in battling PRRS over the past 20 years, and how BIVI continues to be active in the fight.

PRRS research efforts ongoing

One of the ways BIVI has been helping control PRRS is through the funding of both collaborative and original PRRS research. The outcome of that research, BIVI officials said, has been advancements in the areas of biosecurity, disease transmission, immune management and disease monitoring.

“BIVI has continued to support PRRS research since the release of the first MLV PRRS vaccine in 1994. Our goal is to go beyond the bottle by creating a systematic process for PRRS control,” said Dr. Edgar Diaz, senior associate director, tech marketing at BIVI.

Developing field applicable information relevant to PRRS control has been a long term goal of BIVI. “Generating tools and processes, that when applied in a systematic approach, can mitigate the consequences of PRRS has been the primary focus of our collaborative research activities” said Dr. Reid Philips, DVM, PRRS technical manager at BIVI. 

Results of collaborative research activities, such as the annual BIVI Advancement in PRRS Research awards, has dramatically improved knowledge in the key areas of epidemiology, transmission, biosecurity, and immune management in both breeding herds and growing pigs. 

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“We now know that key objectives of a successful PRRS control program include: limiting the source of new PRRSv isolates, preventing PRRSv  introduction,  reducing area spread of the virus and implementing protocols to mitigate the consequences of infection when it occurs,” Philips said.

BIVI’s commitment to research regarding PRRS control strategies is evident; however another key area of the company’s collaborative and original research has been focused to the development of tools that allow producers to measure the success of these strategies.  “Providing producers with the tools to track the effectiveness of PRRS control strategies by measuring health and performance, transmission of the virus, and tracking PRRS outbreaks in their system is important,” said Philips. 

“By constantly evaluating the impact of interventions, we have learned that maintaining uniform immunity within a population is important,” said Philips. BIVI is currently recommending a two pronged approach of breeding herd mass vaccination and growing pig vaccination.“Vaccine can be used to achieve stability in breeding herds while minimizing the time required to reach pre-break production levels,” he said. “Additionally, growing pig vaccination impacts pig health and consequently performance, along with the shedding of wild-type virus.”

Communication, coordination key to effective PRRS control

The importance of communication, coordination, and collaboration, both within and between systems, has also been shown to be vital to the success of a PRRS control programs. Due to this, BIVI continues to be strong supporters of the Area Regional Control (ARC) concept and has partnered with University of California-Davis to further develop a tool, Bioportal, to help track the genetic diversity of the virus. Additionally, BIVI continues to have a PRRSolutions team who are specifically dedicated to help producers and veterinarians control PRRS.