What's in a name?

Scientific endeavor continues to outpace the application of new discoveries in such a manner that two new questions are created for every one answer that is learned, or so it seems. Part of the discovery process is the creation of terms, names, and phrases that, while intended to simplify discussion, often lead to confusion and/or aggravation.

We're in TAOTA (The Age Of The Acronym) and some have taken exception to "PRDC." When two words have exactly the same meaning, it can be questioned why there is the need to spell out "acclimatization" instead of "acclimation" (as a profession, we've tried to drop the second syllable of our own title forever). "Wean-to-finish" versus "wean-to-market" versus "nurfin" has passed the time over a friendly ale more than once. All of these new-language examples are probably innocuous and don't warrant more than acknowledgment of their existance. There is one, however, that does.

I sense a real danger as we go forward in our efforts to make porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus "go away" in creating a myriad of unfulfilled expectations in our clientele and the "nonscience" part of the industry when we choose to use "PRRS eradication" instead of "elimination." The profession has been involved in eradication projects since the end of the 19th century, starting with foot and mouth, then tuberculosis, brucellosis, hog cholera, and, now, pseudorabies virus. The plan has always been to remove the critter from within our boundaries in toto.

The virus removal plans for PRRSV have, to date, all involved its elimination from a herd or group of linked herds, hardly the type of effort that fits the general understanding of what "eradication" has meant historically. I doubt there is anyone who feels we have sufficient information about the pathogen to start a true eradication program. I can't wait until there is.

Meanwhile, I suggest we use the opportunity to avoid confusion, save the time needed for explanation, and at least delay unfulfilled expectations in the industry by referring to these most admirable efforts as PRRS "elimination," not "eradication".

--David Madsen, DVM