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Farmers reminded to up winter defences against PRRS

7th Nov 2016 / By Georgina Crayford

We are now entering the season when disease associated with the virus that causes Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) increases.

PRRS virusIt is therefore important to ensure as an industry we do everything we can to protect pigs from the virus.

One of the likely reasons we see an increased risk at this time of year is that the virus survives better in cooler, damper and darker conditions. It can also be more difficult to properly clean and disinfect pig buildings, vehicles and equipment during the winter.

Similarly, fluctuations in temperature and problems with ventilation in the winter can predispose pigs to clinical outbreaks of respiratory and other disease.

Farmers are strongly advised to carry out a biosecurity audit with their vet to identify and tackle any weak points which might allow the virus to enter their farm.

The signs shown by pigs with disease due to PRRS can vary quite widely. It mainly causes reproductive and respiratory disease as its name suggests.

But because it is immunosuppressive (prevents the immune system from working properly) and also causes lung damage, secondary bacterial infections are common so wasting, sudden deaths, lameness and nervous signs may be the main problem seen.

It is important to consult your vet when disease occurs or if you suspect PRRS, so that a definitive diagnosis can be made and an appropriate control plan developed.

Successful management of PRRS virus can also ultimately lead to a reduction in the need for treatment with antibiotics.

PRRS is coming increasingly under the spotlight as it appears to be on the rise due to the strains diverging.

  • Dr Georgina Crayford is the NPA’s senior policy adviser. She also sits on the Pig Health and Welfare Council antimicrobial subgroup