Genetic Variability of the PRRS Virus Increasing

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Farmscape for March 18, 2020

The Executive Director of the Swine Health Information Center says, while the number of cases of PRRS appears to be decreasing, the genetic variability of the virus responsible for the infection is increasing. The Swine Health Information Center’s March 2020 Domestic Disease Monitoring report, released as part of its March 2020 Newsletter, indicates the number of cases of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome was down in February. SHIC Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg says, while the trend is moving in a downward direction, the thing that’s concerning is that researchers are finding increased genetic variability in the PRRS isolates that they’ve been seeing and that’s something producers need to be keeping an eye on.

Clip-Dr. Paul SundbergSwine Health Information Center:
I think for pork producers the PRRS virus is probably the number one thing that causes economic impact to pork producers and this genetic variability issue is one that’s important and one to keep an eye on. Anytime that a producer gets a result of PRRS or suspects that and submits it to a diagnostic lab, then their veterinarian should ask for a genetic analysis to understand that genetic variability because that will give them some sort of a heads up on what they might be able to expect in the future. If that genetic variability indicates that they’re having a problem with a new strain, that could affect them, it could affect their neighbors, it could affect the whole industry so that’s something we want to keep a really good eye on.

Dr. Sundberg says anybody that’s had any experience with the PRRS virus knows that different strains can cause different levels of problems so the change in the genetics of the PRRS virus is being monitored so the specific strains can be identified as quickly as possible.
SHIC’s March 2020 newsletter and the full March Domestic Disease Monitoring Report can be found at swinehealth.org.

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