Straight talk

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome

Two statements can be made about porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) and swine veterinarians: first, not since hog cholera has a disease so captured the attention of the swine industry; and, second, swine veterinarians have never been known to dance around an issue. With those two statements in mind, the AASV asked members to comment on the following question: What role should the AASV play in PRRS eradication efforts in North America? Here's what your colleagues had to say.

From Steve Henry

"Foremost, the AASV is the conduit for information and education on new knowledge and progress. We need more knowledge and should push politically and professionally for that work and research. The AASV leadership and membership must exert pressure on researchers to intensify the effort toward a safe and efficacious vaccine. If a safe and effective vaccine is not possible, research needs to prove why this is not a possibility. Encouraging research toward other direct interventions (antivirals, antiserum, and so forth) should also be a mission. Finally, the epidemiologic basis of PRRS is still not well studied. We need the sort of information that preceded pseudorabies virus (PRV) eradication. Toward this end, AASV members will need to help and participate when studies are set in place and funded."

From Lisa Becton

"I see the AASV as a collection and distribution point for many of the articles and information that come from all sectors of research. It is very hard some days to `sift through the chaff' to determine whether the information has potential application in the field.

The AASV could also be a pollster to find out and help share with the membership how other veterinarians are or are not achieving PRRS eradication. The AASV sponsored a roundtable for serum exposure that got many folks together for a discussion.

The AASV could also be the initiator for regional forums to share information, such as North Carolina's PRV eradication group. I also see the AASV as a driver to help make sure that research is divided among various universities and organizations to allow broader coverage of this challenging disease."

From Paul Armbrecht

"This disease continues to plague the industry. The AASV has a tremendous amount of knowledge and credibility to provide to the swine industry. I believe that the contacts that are frequently made by AASV committee members can provide a framework for eradication efforts. The AASV can be the `hub of the wheel' that brings together all stakeholders to develop the basic procedures for area eradication and eventual national elimination."

From Robert Desrosiers

"It would seem logical that if an industry wants to get rid of an infectious disease, it should know the means by which the causal organism gets transmitted. In fact, not only should it know what these means are, but ideally it should also have an idea as to what the relative importance of each one is, so that prevention efforts can be placed on those that are proven to be more frequently involved. Although we have progressed significantly in determining the potential transmission means for the PRRS virus in experimental setups, we are still lacking a lot of information as to what is actually happening in the field. In that respect, anything that AASV could do to help identify and quantify the ways by which the virus really gets transmitted among our farms would be valuable to the industry."

From Tim Loula

"First we have to sell it to North America. This will be a tough sell, but we have to convince the industry that it's the right thing to do economically in the long term, and that it is doable.

I believe most members of AASV are now convinced that we can eliminate PRRS from a herd with today's technologies, such as depopulation, herd closure, whole herd serum exposure, and vaccination.

AASV members must be leaders locally to lead the regional eradication efforts and they must be major educators to their local clients."

From Locke Karriker

"The AASV has a unique mission in our profession as a supporter for swine practitioners. A critical need for practitioners is timely access to data (both field and experimental) and relatively unbiased, evidence-based summaries of what conclusions are supported by that data. This is especially the case as it relates to clinical impacts, prevention, and management of infected farms. Anecdotal information runs rampant through the industry, fueled by frustration with the disease, and is often not identified as such or differentiated from valid clinical conclusions. This undermines our credibility as a profession and is inconsistent with the recent theses of AASV annual meetings that emphasize the utility of science and basic veterinary skills. Successful practitioners find themselves in a high-demand environment with little time to effectively utilize the passive methods of information summary and dissemination that currently exist to get an accurate survey of the entire body of evidence. Evidence-based medicine is a defined process that outlines a transparent mechanism for reviewing and summarizing information to answer clinical questions with utility in the field. Occasionally, the process concludes that there is not sufficient evidence to guide a decision. That is still a valuable outcome, as it suggests areas of needed research emphasis. The AASV could play a pivotal role by supporting evidence-based review of the clinical data and developing methods to disseminate those reviews to practitioners in the field."

--Tracy Ann Raef