ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Pork virus difficult to battle in cold temperatures

BROOKINGS, S.D. -- Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, also known as PRRS, is a challenging virus for pork producers. According to Russ Daly, South Dakota State University Extension veterinarian, professor and State Public Health Veter...

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, also known as PRRS, is a challenging virus for pork producers.

According to Russ Daly, South Dakota State University Extension veterinarian, professor and State Public Health Veterinarian, the PRRS virus can be more of a problem for farmers in the winter.

“We know and observe that the PRRS virus survives better in cold temperatures,” Daly says. “The colder it is, the longer the virus can stay viable and alive, which is one reason we tend to see more outbreaks during colder weather.”

PRRS is a virus that exclusively affects pigs, it does not spread to other animals or people. It affects the systems of the animal by spreading from blood cells to organs, such as lungs and lymph nodes. Saliva, air and urine can all contain the virus. Although it is quite contagious, it does not spread quickly from pig to pig. Affected pigs can have a wide variety of responses to PRRS, including poor growth, immunosuppression and reproductive failure.

“The PRRS virus is one of the most important diseases the swine industry faces,” says Dustin Oedekoven, South Dakota state veterinarian. “We go to great lengths to prevent PRRS.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The winter weather creates ventilation challenges for pig farmers. An enclosed environment gives the virus the opportunity to easily spread without proper ventilation. Farmers must maintain the temperature of barns, but shutting barns up creates issues with stale air and humidity.

Daly recommends pig farmers follow biosecurity steps and ensure the basics are in place. Pig farmers should have procedures for how new animals are introduced and moved, for people in contact with animals, and for cleaning and disinfecting.

“The cold makes cleaning and disinfecting more challenging, including in the trailers in between groups,” Daly says. “Swine producers can adapt to the challenge by doing things like adding antifreeze to their disinfectant.”

South Dakota pig farmers are not required to report PRRS positive diagnoses to the state, making it difficult to know how many farms are affected total.

“Overall, South Dakota is better off than other states, because it’s not as hog dense,” Daly says. “The aerosol spread of PRRS is minimal, because there are not as many hog farms nest to others. But it’s still subject to spread by pigs, people and vehicles.”

Other states, including Wisconsin, are looking into establishing statewide control programs.

With the introduction of PEDV into the U.S., biosecurity efforts were increased, according to Glenn Muller, executive director of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council.

“The South Dakota Pork Producers Council has biosecurity information available on our website and in brochures,” Muller says. “It’s important for farmers to protect investments and herd to the best of abilities.”

ADVERTISEMENT

With PRRS, it is important to realize there are lots of different strains, Daly said. Even through a pig may be infected with one strain, it can still be affected by another. PRRS is not just one virus. Strains change frequently, but according to Oedekoven there are new diagnostic tools all the time.

While the winter conditions make PRRS a greater challenge, farmers can avoid issues by following strict biosecurity protocols and maintaining good barn ventilation.

Related Topics: LIVESTOCKAGRICULTURE
What To Read Next
Wednesday’s community input meeting at Worthington High School was the third of four planned by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
Rod Burkard now has the opportunity to compete in August at the national event in Pennsylvania.
Women plan to add a mini market and deli to their business in the coming months.
Benson and Turner Foods will process cattle and hogs at Waubun, Minnesota, on the White Earth Reservation with the help of a USDA grant.