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PRRSV Surveillance on the Breeding Herd - Is Oral Fluids from Suckling Piglets an Alternative?

Researchers hypothesize that development of a reliable and practical oral fluids-based surveillance of suckling pigs will allow veterinarians to significantly improve PRRS surveillance protocols by sampling more frequently and representing more animals, which would decrease the time-to-detect PRRS outbreaks, and/or detect virus at low prevalence in herds approaching stability. [Source:, April 18, 2017]

Practical, fast, easy, cost-effective and reliable methods for sampling pig populations is needed to establish ongoing and effective disease surveillance of the swine industry. Oral fluids sampling offer those characteristics, but it has not been easy or practical to obtain such samples from suckling piglets. The researchers conducted a series of field studies to characterize factors positively associated with increased success rate of obtaining oral fluids from suckling pigs:

  • Piglet age: ≥ 3 weeks old pigs had better success rate than younger pigs.
  • Time of the day: the earlier it was the rope exposure, the higher it was the success rate. (Best ~ 6 AM; Poor ≥ 8 AM).
  • Substrate: peanut butter slightly improved success rate for litter sampling (compared to nothing) (requires additional labor to pre-soak ropes).
  • Rope height from floor: the closer the rope was from the floor the easiest it was for piglets to interact with it.
  • Family vs. litter sampling: family sampling had significantly better results compared to litter sampling (success rate and volume).
  • Prior training: prior training improved the litter sampling success rate.

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