Assessing internal personnel movements in swine farms to help direct PRRS control and elimination efforts

This is our Friday rubric: every week a new Science Page from the Bob Morrison’s Swine Health Monitoring Project. The previous editions of the science page are available on our website.

This week, we are sharing the preliminary results of a study conducted by Dr. Andreia Arruda at Ohio State University.

Key points

  • Newly developed beacon-sensing technology can be used to better understand within-farm people movement; and particularly better quantify potentially “risky” movements in PRRS positive herds during control/ elimination efforts.
  • Preliminary data analysis showed that an increase in commonly referred to “risky” movements (e.g. from loading areas/ nurseries to other parts of the farm) was associated with a decrease in number of pigs weaned per sow; and an increase in pre-weaning mortality.
Continue reading “Assessing internal personnel movements in swine farms to help direct PRRS control and elimination efforts”

Best of Leman 2018 series #3: J.Angulo – Understanding PRRSV infection dynamics in growing pigs in control and elimination programs

We launched a new series on the blog last year. Once a month, we are sharing with you a presentation given at the Allen D. Leman swine conference, on topics that the swine group found interesting, innovative or that lead to great discussions.

We can find all of the presentations selected from last year’s conference on the blog here.

Our third presentation for this year is from Dr. Jose Angulo from Zoetis and Dr. Paul Yeske from Swine Vet Center regarding PRRS infection dynamics in growing pigs.

Click on the image below to see his presentation at the conference:

Breed-to-wean farm factors associated with influenza A virus infection in piglets at weaning

A scientific article written by Dr. Fabian Chamba Pardo when he was doing his PhD in the Torremorell lab was recently published on the journal of Preventive Veterinary Medicine. The study presented aimed to look at the various factors influencing the influenza infection status of piglets at weaning.


  • Sow vaccination decreased influenza infections in piglets at weaning.
  • Influenza positive gilts at entry were associated with positive piglets at weaning.
  • More work is needed to assess herd closure, gilt isolation and gilt vaccination.

83 farms from 2 different pig production companies and located in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota were enrolled in this study. Samples were collected at weaning on a monthly basic for a little less than 6 years as part of routine surveillance programs. The majority of farms submitted 4 oral fluid samples per month but some collected nasal swabs or oro-pharyngeal swabs.

23% of the samples tested positive for influenza allowing the collection of 173 hemagglutinin sequences. In the H1 hemagglutinin subtype, isolates were 93.8% to 99% similar between each other and 94.3% to 97.4% similar to the vaccine strains. The largest discrepancy was found in the delta 1 clade. In the H3 hemagglutinin subtype, isolates were 95.9 to 99.7% similar among each other and 997.3% to 97.5% similar to the vaccine strains.

influenza factors for piglet positive at weaning

The influenza status of the piglets at weaning was influenced by several factors.

Seasons and vaccination status of the sows against influenza influenced piglet infection status at weaning. Indeed, sow influenza vaccination was significantly associated  with a decreased probability of piglets testing influenza positive at weaning. Both whole-herd and pre-farrow vaccination protocols were better compared to no vaccination and there were no differences between both protocols. Additionally, having influenza positive gilts at entry increased the probability of detecting positive piglets at weaning.

Among all the factors evaluated, sow influenza vaccination and gilt influenza status at entry were the only factors associated with influenza in piglets at weaning in Midwestern breed-to-wean farms.


Breed-to-wean pig farms play an important role in spreading influenza A virus (IAV) because suckling piglets maintain, diversify and transmit IAV at weaning to other farms. Understanding the nature and extent of which farm factors drive IAV infection in piglets is a prerequisite to reduce the burden of influenza in swine. We evaluated the association between IAV infection in piglets at weaning and farm factors including farm features, herd management practices and gilt- and piglet-specific management procedures performed at the farm. Voluntarily enrolled breed-to-wean farms (n = 83) agreed to share IAV diagnostic testing and farm data from July 2011 through March 2017 including data obtained via the administration of a survey. There were 23% IAV RT-PCR positive samples of the 12,814 samples submitted for IAV testing within 2989 diagnostic submissions with 30% positive submissions. Among all the factors evaluated (n = 24), and considering the season-adjusted multivariable analysis, only sow IAV vaccination and gilt IAV status at entry significantly reduced (p-value<0.05) IAV infections in piglets at weaning. Results from this study indicate that veterinarians and producers could manage these identified factors to reduce the burden of influenza in piglets prior to wean and perhaps, reduce the spread of IAV to other farms and people.

Read the entire publication on the journal website.


Science Page: Making epidemiological sense out of large datasets of PRRS sequences

This is our Friday rubric: every week a new Science Page from the Bob Morrison’s Swine Health Monitoring Project. The previous editions of the science page are available on our website.

This week, we are sharing an epidemiological report regarding a large PRRS sequence dataset from Dr. Igor Paploski in the VanderWaal research group.

Key points:

  • Occurrence of PRRS lineages is not equal in different years, systems or production types
  • Occurrence of specific PRRS lineages is associated with movement of animals
  • Continuous surveillance for PRRS occurrence is important in understanding its determinants and might be able to provide insights that can
    help on its prevention

By utilizing a dataset of 1901 PRRS sequences provided by the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Project (MSHMP) participants over 3 recent years, the spatiotemporal patterns in the occurrence of different lineages of PRRSV was described and the extent to which the network of pig movement between farms determines the occurrence of PRRS from similar lineages was investigated.

PRRS lineages occurred at different frequencies across geographically overlapping production systems. Preliminary analysis showed that the relative frequency in which specific lineages occur increase while others are decrease over time. The rate at which these changes occur appears to be system-specific. Some lineages were also more common in farms of specific production types (i.e. sow farm or nurseries). As expected, farms that were connected via pig movements were more likely to share the same lineages than expected by chance across all years.

These findings suggest that system-specific characteristics partially drive PRRS occurrence over time and across farms of different production types. Our results also
indicate that animal movement between farms is a driver of PRRS occurrence, strengthening this hypothesis of viral transmission.

Additional research is needed to quantify risks and develop mitigation measures related to animal movement.

Large PRRS sequencing dataset

Science Page: Transmission and survivability of African swine fever virus

Wild boar

This is our Friday rubric: every week a new Science Page from the Bob Morrison’s Swine Health Monitoring Project. The previous editions of the science page are available on our website.

This week, we are sharing a literature review on ASF virus transmission and survivability created by Carles Vilalta. Other recent posts on African Swine Fever can be found on this blog.


  • New introductions of ASF to free areas of the disease are usually by uncooked pork fed to pigs.
  • Virus can be inactivated with temperature and low pH.
  • Survivor animals may play a role in the transmission and persistence of the disease.

Further outbreaks of African Swine Fever virus (ASFV) were reported last week in China several miles away from what is thought to be the first outbreak. This geographic dispersal leads us to think about dissemination mechanisms within the country and between countries.


Infected animals will go through a viremic phase and can shed the virus through nasal secretions, feces and urine. Therefore, the main transmission route is oral-nasal, as pigs can be exposed to ASF positive secretions or tissues (i.e. pork products). Indirect transmission can also occur by exposure to contaminated fomites. This virus can also be transmitted by ticks. This vector-borne route becomes relevant when the wild boar
population is present and moves across regions and countries. The common introduction route into ASF free regions is usually through positive pigs transported into the area, or contaminated pork products that are fed to other pigs. ASFV has also been detected in air samples; however, airborne transmission is considered a secondary route of transmission due to the high virus load needed.


Inactivation and persistence

Although ASFV is highly resistant, the virus can be inactivated at pH < 4 and pH >11. Survivability outside the host is heavily related to temperature. For instance, the infectious half-life in urine and feces can range from 3 to 15 days and 4 to 8 days at 37°C and 4°C, respectively. The virus may persist for several weeks or months in frozen, fresh, or uncooked pork, as well as in salted dried pork products. In contrast, ASFV is inactivated at high temperatures (i.e. 70°C cooked or canned hams) and in cured or processed products such as Spanish cured pork products after day 122–140 of curing. Pigs can become persistently infected and the virus can stay viable in their carcasses for up to six months. Therefore, infected carcasses represent a risk to other pigs. More recently, an investigation simulating a trans-Atlantic shipping of ASFV contaminated feed ingredients from Europe proved that viable virus can be recovered after 30 days.

The role of survivor pigs

ASFV recovered and sub-clinically infected pigs become a source of virus to other pigs. This plays an important role in disease transmission and persistence in endemic areas as well as becoming one of the most important routes of transmission into disease-free zones. In-vivo experiments have revealed an infectious period of moderately virulent virus isolates ranging from 20 to 40 days. In another in-vivo transmission study, pigs that had been exposed to ASFV 90 days prior were commingled with naive pigs and the virus was transmitted to naive pigs.

Serological field studies performed in positive regions of Brazil, the Iberian Peninsula, East Africa, Kenya and Uganda revealed that the there was a very low percentage of seropositive animals one year after the outbreak. It was hypothesized that those few seropositive pigs were still carriers and could have been responsible of some of the newer outbreaks.


ASF has a complex epidemiology with different routes of transmission that can involve animals and ticks as direct transmission, and contaminated clothes, tools, and surfaces as indirect transmission. Thus, early detection and intervention of the diseases are key to containing disease spread in absence of an effective vaccine.