Infection dynamics and incidence of wild-type PRRS virus in growing pigs

This new publication from the Torremorell’s lab is focusing on growing pig herds in the Midwest and how wild-type PRRS virus can spread among them. The full publication is available on the journal’s website.


  • Wild-type PRRSV infections in growing pigs are common and more prevalent towards the middle to end of the growing phase.
  • Site-level surveillance is useful to understand PRRSV infections in vaccinated pigs.
  • Biosecurity practices in growing pig sites are key to prevent lateral infections.


  • 63 wean-to-market farms from 10 different companies were enrolled in the study
  • Pigs from PRRS naive or PRRS stable farms
  • Oral fluids collected every 4 weeks at each site, tested by PRRS PCR
  • ORF5 sequencing was performed to differentiate wild-type PRRS from vaccine strains
  • A sequence was considered wild-type is the ORF5 sequence had more than a 2% nucleotide difference from a vaccine one.


The number of PRRS positive samples per week peaked at 8 weeks post-placement as seen on the figure on the left. This encompasses all PRRS-types. During the study, 36 wild-type PRRSV sequences were observed. The figure on the right shows the distribution of these wild-type sequences over time.

Read the full publication on the journal’s website


Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) infections greatly impact the health and productivity of growing pigs. The introduction and persistence of wild-type PRRSV (WT-PRRSV) strains in growing pig populations is poorly understood. In an observational prospective cohort study, we monitored and surveyed 63 wean-to-finish (WTF) herds across 10 companies located in medium to high pig dense areas in the U.S. Midwest. All herds received weaned pigs from PRRSV-negative or positive-stable breeding herds. Herds were monitored monthly using oral fluids collected following a fixed spatial sampling regime and samples were tested by PRRSV ELISA, RT-PCR and ORF5 sequencing. In most (90%) of the herds, pigs were vaccinated with PRRSV modified-live vaccines either at processing, weaning or shortly after weaning. Wild type PRRSV (WT-PRRSV) infections were defined by the criterion of having more than 2% nucleotide differences in the ORF-5 region compared with reference vaccine strain sequences. Wild type PRRSV was detected in 42% of the herds with infections being more prevalent in the mid to late growing period, with a mean of 20 weeks post placement. Nineteen distinct WT-PRRSV were identified in seven out of 10 production companies with an average of 3 distinct WT-PRRSV strains per company. Vaccinated WTF herds with and without WT-PRRSV detection were compared to each other showing different PCR and ELISA infection patterns. Close-out mortality in vaccinated herds with WT-PRRSV was numerically higher (6.5%) than mortality in those sites where WT-PRRSV was not detected (5.0%) (p = 0.07). Mortality was also higher (10.5%) when WT-PRRSV was detected earlier at eight weeks post-placement compared to late finishing at 20 and 25 weeks post-placement, 2.9% and 4.5% respectively (p = 0.017). Overall, this study sheds light on WT-PRRSV infection dynamics in vaccinated populations of growing pigs, reinforces the importance of biosecurity practices in this phase of production and calls for better understanding of risk factors associated with PRRSV introductions in growing pig sites.

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