News from the National Pork Board

2007 PRRS Initiative funding

Since its discovery in 1991, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) has proven itself a significant pathogen of swine in nearly all production areas of the world. While a great deal has been learned about the virus and the disease it causes in the decade and a half since its discovery, producers and veterinarians still find themselves challenged in finding predictably successful tools for managing or eliminating the virus from herds.

Beginning in 2006, members of the National Pork Board’s Swine Health Committee have been discussing the research results received through the PRRS Initiative funding. Based on the research results and field experiences with PRRSV over the past 3 years of the PRRS Initiative funding, the research objectives of the PRRS Initiative will focus on new areas for 2007.

Three research objectives have been identified for 2007 funding: PRRSV immunology, PRRSV epidemiology and ecology, and PRRSV diagnostics. The research topics under each objective to be included in funding for 2007 are as follows.

PRRSV immunology

  • Identification of common protective epitope(s) ultimately leading to a more efficacious vaccine providing cross-protection
  • Differential vaccine development
  • Develop management recommendations on the basis of immune response
    • Endemic herd infection
    • Acute herd infection
    • Replacement stock

PRRSV epidemiology and ecology

  • Investigate key routes of transmission
    • Methods to eliminate infective PRRSV in semen
      • Semen “sanitation” or “washing”
      • Diagnostic techniques to detect infected semen on-site
    • Transmission of PRRSV in aerosols
      • Investigate what the lowest infectious dose is and the ability to detect the lowest infectious dose
      • Investigate the use of ultraviolet light on incoming air or on exhaust systems to prevent or eliminate the spread of PRRSV as it relates to aerosol transmission
    • Potential spread of PRRSV during transport of pigs
      • Examine the risk of PRRSV-positive pigs in transit transmitting virus to herds located near the route
      • Study the use or necessity of filtered trucks in transporting PRRSV-naive pigs
  • Understanding transmission
    • PRRSV transmission within a farm
    • Identification of risk factors for between-farm transmission
  • Alternate hosts-reservoirs of virus
    • Potential reservoirs not yet investigated
  • Biosecurity
    • Examine the potential for employees to contaminate equipment/supplies on the farm during an outbreak that could re-infect the farm by harboring the virus
    • Examine the potential for employees, equipment, or supplies to provide an “escape” route for the virus to leave the farm during an outbreak
    • Investigate if PRRSV can be harbored on the farm
  • Surveillance
    • Sequencing strains to aid in determining epidemiology in a region
    • Integration of diagnostic lab databases to better understand PRRS epidemiology in real time

PRRSV diagnostics

  • Development of tests to detect PRRSV in commercial herds and boar studs earlier and with increased sensitivity, specificity, and decreased cost to producers
    • Diagnostics for earlier detection at herd level
    • Improvement of available diagnostic reagents
    • Development of diagnostics for practitioner and producer use
  • Differentiation of exposed, vaccinated, and infected swine

The call-for-proposals deadline for 2007 PRRS Initiative funding was April 17. The Swine Health Committee will report on the number of funded proposals in future issues of this publication. For more information, contact Dr Pamela Zaabel at

US pork producers favor premises registration

Pork producers across the United States have been proactive to protect swine health by registering their pork-producing premises to receive a premises identification number. Almost 50% of swine premises across the country have registered.

Under the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), the United States standards set for premises registration provide a standardized method to identify premises across states, that eliminate duplication and help support animal health authorities to develop an animal health infrastructure that is modern, fast, and efficient.

The swine industry continues to move forward, providing multiple opportunities for producers to learn about the NAIS, premises registration, and the industry-developed swine identification plan. “The plan, as part of the NAIS, helps support the overall swine health infrastructure,” said Jim Niewold, a producer from Loda, Illinois, and chair of the Pork Checkoff’s swine health committee. “It provides a tool for state veterinarians and state livestock commissioners to protect swine health in their states.”

Premises registration, as part of the swine identification plan, will help animal-health authorities to communicate with pork producers and target resources during disease outbreaks or natural disasters.

Producers registering their premises receive a premises identification number (PIN). PINs allow animal-health authorities to map out areas where disasters may affect livestock. Knowing where livestock are located and how to contact producers if an area is affected allows animal-health authorities to rapidly respond and target resources to where the need is most important.

The swine industry is moving forward with the goal of having 100% of swine premises registered by the end of 2007. To reach this goal, the Pork Checkoff will hire three regional swine identification program coordinators, through a cooperative agreement with USDA/APHIS. These coordinators will work with the states to provide opportunities for producers to learn about premises registration.

For more information on the Pork Checkoff’s efforts to promote premises registration, contact Dr Patrick Webb at

PQA Plus update

PQA has changed! The new program, PQA Plus, addresses not only pork safety but also animal care and well-being. The program also changes the requirements of those who are able to certify producers in PQA Plus. If you are a current PQA Educator, this concerns you.

Current PQA Educators wishing to continue producer certification (signing producer cards) in the new PQA Plus must take the PQA Plus Advisor training course and pass a PQA Plus Advisor examination. To find out how to receive PQA Plus Advisor training in your state, visit the Pork Checkoff’s PQA Plus Web site at, and follow the “For Advisors” tab.

Starting June 2007, the Pork Checkoff will return all producer certification cards signed by PQA trainers who do not satisfy the requirements for PQA Plus Advisors, have not received training in the new PQA Plus coursework, or have not satisfactorily completed the PQA Plus examination.

For more information on PQA Plus, contact Erik Risa at

Checkoff-funded research projects from the swine health general call for proposals

The research priorities for the general call for proposals included swine health except porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) and porcine circovirus associated disease (PCVAD). PRRS and PCVAD will be addressed individually in separate research calls. The projects funded for 2007 from the general call are shown below.

For more information on 2007 funded projects, contact Dr Pamela Zaabel at

Institution Project title
Iowa State University Genome sequencing of Haemophilus parasuis for improved swine health
Iowa State University Prevalence of slaughter-house condemnation due to Erysipelothrix sp and
further characterization of isolates associated with these cases
Iowa State University Improving swine health: Enhancing humoral and cell-mediated immunity using novel polymer adjuvants
Regents of the University of Minnesota The effect of cross-fostering on the transfer of cellular and humoral maternal immunity to Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae
Regents of the University of Minnesota Application of an epidemiologic survey tool for Lawsonia intracellularis
South Dakota State University Development of a non-antibiotic selection vector for developing a live vaccine against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli-associated porcine postweaning
University of Saskatchewan Development of a live attenuated vaccine against swine influenza by reverse genetics