Using a field-based model, mechanical transmission of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) was assessed throughout a coordinated sequence of events that replicated common farm worker behavior during cold weather ( 0°C). The model involved fomites (boots and containers), vehicle sanitation, transport, and the movement of personnel. A field strain of PRRSV was inoculated into carriers consisting of snow and water, and carriers were adhered to the undercarriage of a vehicle. The vehicle was driven approximately 50 km to a commercial truck washing facility where the driver’s boots contacted the carriers during washing, introducing the virus to the vehicle interior. The vehicle was then driven 50 km to a simulated farm site, and the driver’s boots mechanically spread virus into the farm anteroom. Types of containers frequently employed in swine
farms (styrofoam semen cooler, metal toolbox, plastic lunch pail, and cardboard animal health product shipping parcel) contacted drippings from footwear on the anteroom floor. The truck wash floor, vehicle cab floor mats, boot soles, anteroom floor, and the ventral surface of containers were sampled to track the virus throughout the model. Ten replicates were conducted, along with sham-inoculated controls. At multiple sampling points PRRSV nucleic acid was detected in 8 of 10 replicates. In each of the 8 PCR-positive replicates, infectious PRRSV was detected on the surfaces of containers by virus isolation or swine bioassay. All sham-inoculated controls were negative. These results indicate that mechanical transmission of PRRSV can occur during coordinated sequence of events in cold weather.