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Steve Dunkley

Head of Knowledge Exchange (Interim)

AHDB Pork KE

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The impact of respiratory disease in the GB pig industry

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Research partner: University of Warwick

Industrial partner: AHDB Pork-funded studentship (Charlotte Evans)

Duration: 2005 - 2009 

Aims and objectives

  • To estimate the prevalence and incidence of common respiratory diseases in England and investigate their associations with one another and with post-weaning mortality
  • To investigate antibody profiles for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV)-infected herds and to determine management factors associated with differences in profiles between herds
  • To investigate how PRRSV could persist within infected herds using mathematical models and available data
  • To determine the impact of PRRSV infection on disease and explore theoretically how this could be reduced by different control and elimination strategies. 

Findings to date

  • PRRS was frequently associated with raised mortality and morbidity when present with other disease causing agents in a herd
  • When virus was introduced into a herd via gilts there was a high frequency of fade out in breeding pigs before the virus reached young stock
  • Once the virus had reached young stock there was an increased probability of virus persisting in the herd
  • This was also more likely in large herds, herds with increased contact between age groups and herds that had frequent re-introduction of virus (for example through purchasing infectious pigs, or wind borne spread)
  • The results highlight the importance of determining whether a herd is truly infected or not and appropriate sourcing and isolation of new stock
  •         The patterns observed suggest that the processes of re-introduction, persistence and fade-out of PRRSV play critical roles in the spread of PRRSV throughout the pig industry. 

Further information

*West, C.M., Medley, G.F., Green, L.E., 2008. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) in GB pig herds: farm characteristics associated with heterogeneity in seroprevalence. BMC Veterinary Research 4, 48 (published paper)