Production Losses From an Endemic Animal Disease: PRRS in Selected Midwest US Sow Farms

In this publication in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Drs. Valdes-Donoso from UC Davis and Andres Perez from the Center of Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) at the University of Minnesota, measured the impact of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) on the production of weaned pigs.

To do so, they monitored 16 different sow farms, all parts of a single production system in the Midwest for 48 weeks and recorded a total of 8 indicators:

  • number of weaned pigs
  • number of stillbirths per litter
  • number of live births per litter
  • number of pre-weaned dead
  • number of sows farrowing
  • number of sows repeating service
  • number of sows aborting
  • number of sows dead

For each farm and each indicator, the 12 weeks before the outbreak served as a baseline for the farm performances and the data was recorded until 35 weeks post outbreaks. All of the outbreaks occurred during the second half of 2014. The inventory of the farms varied between 2,714 and 6,009 breeding females.

The following figure represented the weekly average for the 8 recorded parameters from 12 weeks pre-outbreak to 35-weeks post-outbreak.

Perez PRRS sow farm losses Midwest

Based on these results, it was estimated that a PRRS outbreak caused a 7.4% decrease in weaned pigs per sow year, i.e., 1.92 fewer weaned pigs per breeding unit. In an average sized farm of this firm, the slight reduction in farrowing yielded a decline of 249 fewer farrows per year. The chances that a sow repeats service increased by 37%, while aborted fetuses increased by 26% in a year with a PRRS outbreak.

The primary estimate (using 12 weeks as pre-outbreak period) is that PRRS reduced weaned pig production per farm by 7.4% on an annual basis, leading to a decrease in output value per sow year of $86.6, or $367,521 per farm year for an average sized farm. If instead we assume the outbreak began in t −1 (i.e., using 11 weeks as pre-outbreak period), the estimated reduction in weaned pig production was 7.6%, or $88.8 less per sow year and an average revenue loss of $376,773 among the farms studied.

Results showed that weaned pig production declined in week − 1, although statistically insignificant, as did several performance indicators. The data suggest that the average PRRS outbreak in this set of farms began at least one week before it was announced.”

The rise in abortions was the strongest signal of PRRSV activity in our data. Increased surveillance, particularly to rising abortions, may allow farms to identify PRRS more quickly.

The length of PRRS outbreaks, as well as their effects over time, is highly variable. The results of this study demonstrate that PRRS has a negative effect on weaned pig production for a longer time than previously estimated. Indeed, the estimated means of weaned pig production remained below the baseline throughout the 35 weeks that we are able to observe following the outbreak.

For more details, read the open-access publication on the Frontiers in Veterinary Science website.


Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is an endemic disease causing important economic losses to the US swine industry. The complex epidemiology of the disease, along with the diverse clinical outputs observed in different types of infected farms, have hampered efforts to quantify PRRS’ impact on production over time. We measured the impact of PRRS on the production of weaned pigs using a log-linear fixed effects model to evaluate longitudinal data collected from 16 sow farms belonging to a specific firm. We measured seven additional indicators of farm performance to gain insight into disease dynamics. We used pre-outbreak longitudinal data to establish a baseline that was then used to estimate the decrease in production. A significant rise of abortions in the week before the outbreak was reported was the strongest signal of PRRSV activity. In addition, production declined slightly one week before the outbreak and then fell markedly until weeks 5 and 6 post-outbreak. Recovery was not monotonic, cycling gently around a rising trend. At the end of the study period (35 weeks post-outbreak), neither the production of weaned pigs nor any of the performance indicators had fully recovered to baseline levels. This result suggests PRSS outbreaks may last longer than has been found in most other studies. We assessed PRRS’ effect on farm efficiency as measured by changes in sow production of weaned pigs per year. We translated production losses into revenue losses assuming an average market price of $45.2/weaned pig. We estimate that the average PRSS outbreak reduced production by approximately 7.4%, relative to annual output in the absence of an outbreak. PRRS reduced production by 1.92 weaned pigs per sow when adjusted to an annual basis. This decrease is substantially larger than the 1.44 decrease of weaned pigs per sow/year reported elsewhere.

Science Page: Influenza herd-level prevalence and seasonality in Midwestern sow farms

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 report from Dr. Fabian Chamba regarding influenza herd-level prevalence and seasonality in the Midwest.

Key points:

  • Influenza is endemic and seasonal in piglets from sow farms in the Midwest with higher infections in winter and spring.
  • Influenza seasonality was partially explained by outdoor air absolute humidity and temperature trends.
  • Influenza genetic diversity was high and co-circulation of more than one genetically distinct virus was common.

To study influenza levels over time and its seasonality, monthly testing data of piglets at weaning from 34 sow farms during ~5 years were analyzed.

There were 28% of positive submissions with a median influenza herd-level prevalence of 28%. Genetic diversity was significant with 10 genetically distinct clades of contemporary US swine influenza viruses as shown below. Furthermore, 21% of farms had 3 genetically distinct viruses circulating over time; 18% had 2, 41% had 1 and 20% had no isolates available.

In summary, influenza herd-level prevalence in Midwestern sow farms had a seasonal pattern with higher levels in winter and spring. This is important to better allocate influenza control strategies such as vaccination in sow farms. Influenza seasonality was partially explained by outdoor air absolute humidity and temperature although other factors such as immunity and new introductions may play a role in the observed seasonality.

Read the full story at

A new multidrug resistant Salmonella enterica serotype found in Midwestern swine

Text reproduced from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP)

A new study by Dr. Julio Alvarez‘s team from the STEMMA laboratory, published  in Clinical infectious Diseases suggests that a Salmonella strain circulating in pigs in the US Midwest is part of an emerging clade from Europe that is resistant to multiple antibiotics and may pose a public health risk.

The strain, Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:-, causes many foodborne disease outbreaks mostly tied to pigs and pork products and is expanding in the United States, according to the report by researchers from Minnesota and the United Kingdom.

The team used whole-genome sequencing to assess the relatedness of 659 S 4,[5],12:i:- isolates and 325 S Typhimurium isolates from various sources and locations in the United States and Europe. They also searched for resistance genes and other virulence factors and, for 50 livestock isolates and 22 human isolates, determined the antimicrobial resistance phenotypes.

The researchers found that the S 4,[5],12:i:- isolates fell into two main clades, regardless of their host or place of origin. Eighty-four percent of the US isolates recovered from 2014 through 2016, including nearly all those from pigs in the Midwest, were part of an emerging clade. This clade carried multiple genetic markers for antimicrobial resistance, including resistance to ampicillin, streptomycin, sulphonamides, and tetracyclines.

In addition, phenotypic (actual) resistance to enrofloxacin and ceftiofur was found in 11 of the 50 tested livestock isolates and 9 of the 22 human isolates. This was accompanied by plasmid-mediated resistance genes.

The authors conclude that S 4,[5],12:i:- strains circulating in Midwestern swine herds “are likely part of an emerging multidrug resistant clade first reported in Europe, and can carry plasmid-mediated resistance genes that may be transmitted horizontally to other bacteria and thus could represent a public-health concern.”

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salmonella enterica multidru resistant Alvarez 2017


Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:-, a worldwide emerging pathogen that causes many foodborne outbreaks mostly attributed to pig and pig products, is expanding in the U.S

Whole genome sequencing was applied to conduct multiple comparisons of 659 S. 4,[5],12:i:- and 325 S. Typhimurium from different sources and locations (i.e. U.S. and Europe) to assess their genetic heterogeneity, with a focus on strains recovered from swine in the U.S. Midwest. In addition, presence of resistance genes and other virulence factors was detected and the antimicrobial resistance phenotype of 50 and 22 isolates of livestock and human origin, respectively, was determined.

The S. 4,5,12:i:- strains formed two main clades regardless of their source and geographical origin. Most (84%) of the U.S. isolates recovered in 2014–2016, including those (50/51) recovered from swine in the U.S. Midwest, were part of an emerging clade. In this clade, multiple genotypic resistance determinants were predominant, including resistance against ampicillin, streptomycin, sulphonamides and tetracyclines (ASSuT). Phenotypic resistance to enrofloxacin (11/50) and ceftiofur (9/50) was found in conjunction with the presence of plasmid-mediated resistance genes (qnrB19/qnrB2/qnrS1 and blaCMY-2/blaSHV-12, respectively). Also, higher similarity was found between S. 4,[5],12:i:- from the emerging clade and S. Typhimurium from Europe than with S. Typhimurium from the U.S.

Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:- currently circulating in swine in the U.S. Midwest are likely part of an emerging multidrug resistant clade first reported in Europe, and can carry plasmid-mediated resistance genes that may be transmitted horizontally to other bacteria and thus could represent a public-health concern.