Pigs are sick. By Pork Producer Wanda Patsche

Yes, the dreaded PRRS. PRRS stands for Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome. It’s the time of year when it is prevalent.
So how does this impact us?
Since it is a virus, we only give medications to help the pigs with secondary infections and symptoms. The virus travels through the air and we are hearing PRRS is widespread in our area. It makes sense as there has been quite a bit of wind locally. But, viruses do what viruses do to stay alive.
Is there a vaccine?
Yes, but we have found that it does not work well. Viruses mutate and so is difficult to find a vaccine that works well when it changes constantly.
It’s disheartening because the pigs do not feel well, death rate increases and we need to medicate them (which costs $). All this with low pig prices.
Is there any other way to stop the spread?
Only if the pigs stop breathing. PRRS is more devastating to newborn pigs as they can potentially have 100% death rate until the sow develops natural immunity, which could be 4-5 weeks. Some barns use air filters, but again, our experience is they don’t work.
So now what? We just try to keep them as comfortable as possible and treat the pigs that need treatment. They will grow out of it just as we do when we have a cold.
So what is the future of PRRS?
We have heard there is some research that, through genetic modification, would take the PRRS threat away. Pigs would no longer get PRRS. Sounds wonderful, right? Well, from a farmer’s perspective yes, but we don’t know how the consumer would react. It would be completely safe technology, but it seems once someone says “genetic modification” people freak out.
So what is the good news?
Our weather has been fabulous. Yesterday, my car temperature gauge said 53 degrees. We have only received a dusting of snow and no one is complaining.