Modern pork production “exacerbates PRRS’ ability to evolve”

A swine veterinarian says modern pork production lends itself to disease variation.

Dr. John Waddell with Boehringer Ingelheim says Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus, or PRRS, continues to cause problems for pork producers because it easily evolves.

“The way we raise pigs today has probably exacerbated (the problem) given PRRS’ ability to evolve more rapidly. If you think about it, larger groups of pigs, larger populations, we’re trucking pigs all over the U.S., a million pigs on the road everyday approximately.”

Speaking to Brownfield at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, he says they’ve learned a lot about how viruses change and behave.

“In the human population with COVID, right? And we’ve had all these variants. Same thing happens with PRRS, so we’ve come a long, long ways. But every time one of those new variants evolves, it’s painful.”

Waddell says PRRS has molded the way pork producers develop biosecurity plans, and recent strains have made it difficult for vaccines to fully prevent the virus.

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