Science page: Investigating PRRS summer outbreaks in the US

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 investigation into PRRS summer outbreaks by Dr. Juan Sanhueza and the MSHMP team.

Key Points

  • Each year approximately 3% of the sow farms have a PRRS outbreak during the summer.
  • The incidence of summer PRRS breaks has been constant over the last 9 years.
  • There are geographical areas with higher or lower risk of summer breaks.
prevalence of summer PRRS outbreaks per year
Figure 1. PRRS summer outbreak incidence per year between 2009 and 2017.

A summer outbreak was defined as a PRRS case that happened between June 21st and September 21st of the year. The mean incidence of PRRS summer outbreaks was 3.2% between 2009 and 2017, ranging between 1.6% and 4.4%. The trend was stable among the years. (Figure 1) Not all areas are equal against summer outbreaks. Indeed, the region of Southern Minnesota – Northern Iowa is more at risk of outbreaks than others like Southern Iowa or Eastern North Carolina. (Figure 2)

areas with higer lower PRRS risk in the summer
Figure 2. Geographical areas with higher (red) and lower (blue) PRRSV incidence risk

Biosecurity measures against PRRSV should therefore be a concern all year round for swine producers!


Science Page: PRRS eradication efforts in Chile: Current situation and future prospects

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 on PRRSV eradication efforts in Chile.

Key Points

  • After being introduced in 1999, PRRS was eradicated from the country in 2012.
  • In 2013 PRRS was again detected, sequence analysis suggested this was a new introduction to the country.
  • The Chilean swine industry and the Chilean Veterinary Services (SAG) expect to again eliminate the disease in the near future.

PRRS is a notifiable disease in Chile. It was first detected in 1999, and in 2000 both the swine industry and government joined efforts to eradicate the disease by a series of coordinated events including a mixture of herd closure and depopulation of infected premises. Vaccination was not allowed in the country to control PRRSV infection. The eradication program was completed in 2007 and as a result, Chile was declared PRRSV free in 2012. Nevertheless, on October 2013 clinical signs compatible with PRRSV were reported in a commercial sow farm. Since then, all commercial herds performed surveillance activities according to a risk score based on location and biosecurity measures. From October 2013 to October 2017, approximately 153,000 blood samples have been analyzed.

Chile eradication of PRRSVViral sequences obtained during the 2013 outbreak were compared to sequences from the early 2000s outbreak in Chile. Results showed a large genetic difference between isolates from both outbreaks. Further analyses demonstrated that the Chilean virus was closely related to a virus circulating in the state of Indiana in the US at the time of introduction. These results suggested that the latest PRRSV outbreak in Chile was most likely due to a new introduction into the country rather than a reemergence of a strain previously detected in Chile.

By October 2017, the disease was restricted to approximately 45,000 animals in six commercial farms owned by two companies that currently have eradication programs in place. These six infected commercial sites are clustered in three areas. (See figure above)

US PRRSv surveillance using risk mapping and species distribution modeling

Today, we are sharing a publication from the Preventive Veterinary Medicine journal, by Dr. Andres Perez and the STEMMA laboratory. The goal of the study was to quantify the combined effect of factors such as season and herd size on the spatial range of high-risk areas for PRRSV outbreaks. Using Species Distribution Model, the team extracted associations between hypothesized risk factors and disease occurrence.


  • A species distribution model was used, to predict the spatial risk of PRRSv in swine populations across the U.S.
  • All of the Maxent spatial models identified high-risk areas, with probabilities greater than 0.5.
  • Relative contribution of pig density to PRRSv risk was higher in densely pig populated areas.
  • Relative contribution of climate and land cover to PRRSv risk were important in areas with relative low pig densities.
  • Ecological dynamics of PRRSv are different between swine production region in the U.S.

The largest number of PRRSv outbreaks in the U.S., as reported in the MSHMP, was observed in north central parts of Iowa, followed by south central areas of Minnesota. However, our crude U.S. Maxent model identified eastern North Carolina, southern Minnesota, and northern Iowa as high-risk areas for PRRSv outbreaks. As expected, pig density accounted for most of the PRRSv spatial risk (81.3% relative contribution). Climate (interpreted as the percentage of day-to-night temperature oscillation compared with the summer-to-winter oscillation, and mean temperature of the warmest quarter) accounted for the remaining spatial risk. Overall, the crude Maxent model suggested geographical areas with high pig densities and with a low level of daily temperature variability to the year are mostly suitable for circulation and maintenance of PRRSv.

Factors percent contribution PRRS outbreak Perez 2017
Summary charts of the estimated relative percent contribution of each environmental and demographic variable of the final Maxent model for each swine production region in the U.S.

The model for the South East region indicated that pig density was the most important predictor; followed by precipitation of the wettest month, land cover, and temperature seasonality. The relative contribution of pig density was smaller for this region compared to the Midwest. Specifically, geographical locations with high pig density, precipitation amount between 120 and 200 mm during the wettest months, and that were located within croplands were mostly suitable for PRRSv outbreaks in North Carolina and Northern South Carolina.

Additionally, the spread of PRRSV under certain conditions was more evident for the regions where pig density is relatively low. For example, in Illinois and Indiana and Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, wet weather and temperatures above 0 °C were more important in predicting the spatial risk of PRRSv than pig density.

Click here to read the entire publication on US PRRSv surveillance using risk mapping and species distribution modeling.


PRedicting and mapping PRRSV outbreaks PEREZ 2017.jpg


Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv) outbreaks cause significant financial losses to the U.S. swine industry, where the pathogen is endemic. Seasonal increases in the number of outbreaks are typically observed using PRRSv epidemic curves. However, the nature and extent to which demographic and environmental factors influence the risk for PRRSv outbreaks in the country remains unclear. The objective of this study was to develop risk maps for PRRSv outbreaks across the United States (U.S.) and compare ecological dynamics of the disease in five of the most important swine production regions of the country. This study integrates spatial information regarding PRRSv surveillance with relevant demographic and environmental factors collected between 2009 and 2016. We used presence-only Maximum Entropy (Maxent), a species distribution modeling approach, to model the spatial risk of PRRSv in swine populations. Data fitted the selected model relatively well when the modeling approach was conducted by region (training and testing AUCs < 0.75). All of the Maxent models selected identified high-risk areas, with probabilities greater than 0.5. The relative contribution of pig density to PRRSv risk was highest in pig-densely populated areas (Minnesota, Iowa and North Carolina), whereas climate and land cover were important in areas with relatively low pig densities (Illinois, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas). Although many previous studies associated the risk of PRRSv with high pig density and climatic factors, the study here quantifies, for the first time in the peer-reviewed literature, the spatial variation and relative contribution of these factors across different swine production regions in the U.S. The results will help in the design and implement of early detection, prevention, and control strategies for one of the most devastating diseases affecting the swine industry in the U.S.

Let’s meet up in Chicago!


From Friday to Sunday, the North American PRRS Symposium will be happening in the InterContinental hotel in Chicago. This annual meeting, held on the first week-end of December in conjunction with the National Swine Improvement Federation, is for scientists, diagnosticians, practitioners and producers who are interested in porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), the most costly viral disease to ever face a global swine industry. The meeting is further expanded to include emerging and foreign animal diseases, such as Seneca Valley virus (SVV), porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), porcine circovirus-associated disease (PCVAD), African swine fever virus (ASFV), classical swine fever virus (CSFV), and other high-consequence diseases of swine. Scientific topics include disease control, vaccines, pathogenesis, diagnostics, epidemiology and host genetics. This year meeting is dedicated to our friend and colleague Dr. Bob Morrison. The program of the conference is available online.

From the University of Minnesota, Dr. Montse Torremorell will be moderating a session regarding PRRS on the field whereas Dr. Cesar Corzo, Leman chair in swine health and productivity and Dr. Perle Boyer will be presenting respectively on the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Program and PRRS genetic resistance: an online class for swine experts.

Concurrently to the North American PRRS Symposium, the Conference for Research Workers in Animal Diseases (CRWAD) will be held from Saturday December 2nd to Tuesday, December 5th at the Marriott in Downtown Chicago. There again, the University of Minnesota and more particularly the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory will be represented with the presentation of Dr. Talita Resende, a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr. Connie Gebhart and Dr. Fabio Vannucci. Dr. Resende will be presenting on December 4th at 9:15 am on Evaluation of mouse enteroids as a in vitro model for Lawsonia intracellularis infection. Dr. Jorge Garrido from the Torremorell lab will be presenting on Novel approaches for influenza surveillance in swine breeding herds and Dr Robert Valeris-Chacin from the Myco Lab will be giving a talk on Survival analysis of protocols for eradication of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae in swine farms.

Science Page: Monitoring breeding herd production data to detect PRRSV outbreaks

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 Drs. Gustavo Silva and Daniel Linhares and his team at Iowa State University.

Key points:

  • Systematic monitoring of key production performance indicators allowed for early detection of PRRS outbreaks.
  • Number of abortions was the most efficient parameter, detecting outbreaks up to 4 weeks before being reported to MSHMP.
  • Early detection of signals associated with disease outbreaks may help in preventing further spread of the virus to other herds, and allowing implementation of rapid response intervention(s).

Two-years worth of reproductive performance data from a production system with 14 breeding herds (1,512 herd weeks) was gathered. Weekly data on number of abortions, pre-weaning mortality (PWM) and difference between total born and born alive (neonatal losses), were merged with weekly MSHMP PRRSV status. A statistical process control method was used to scan production data for significant deviations from baseline.

Linhares EWMA application to detect significant deviation in abortions.gif
Example of EWMA application to detect significant deviation in abortions, compared to changes in PRRS status over time.

The time-to-detect outbreak, percentage of early detection of PRRSv-associated productivity deviations, and relative sensitivity and specificity of the production data monitoring system were determined relative to the MSHMP.

Abortion signals were detected 1 to 4 weeks before outbreaks were reported to the MSHMP. Most pre-weaning mortality signals coincided with the outbreak date reported to the MSHMP, and prenatal losses signals were detected from 1 to 3 weeks after the MSHMP reported outbreak date. Overall, the models had high relative sensitivity (range 85.7 to 100%) and specificity (range 98.5% to 99.6%) when comparing to the changes in
PRRS status reported in the MSHMP database.

Best of Leman 2017 series #2: P Yeske – A survival analysis of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae elimination efforts

We launched a new series on the blog last month. Once a month, we are sharing with you a presentation given at the 2017 Allen D. Leman swine conference, on topics that the swine group found interesting, innovative or that lead to great discussions.

Our second presentation today is from Dr. Paul Yeske from Swine Vet Center, who is coming back on his experience with Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae elimination and giving us an update if the herds stayed negative.

To listen to this presentation, please click on the picture below:

Yeske Survival analysis of Mhyo elimination efforts Leman 2017

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

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.”

Click on the banner below to access the entire article.

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.