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Area Regional Control Group

Area Regional Control Group

What is the project about?

Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is a viral disease of pigs characterised by two overlapping clinical presentations – reproductive impairment or failure in breeding animals, and respiratory disease in pigs of any age. The issue with PRRS is not only the clinical impact of the virus itself but the fact that the PRRS virus multiplies inside the macrophages in the lungs.  Hence, instead of the macrophages destroying the virus, they become the replication ground for PRRS. Up to 40% of macrophages can be destroyed, thus suppressing the immune system, allowing bacteria and other viruses to proliferate such as pleurisy.

PRRS is a complicated disease with no stable/long term vaccine as the PRRS virus undergoes rapid evolution showing antigenic, pathogenic and genetic variations.  This has important implications for vaccine development but also highlights the importance of controlling the disease via strict biosecurity and management in conjunction with an effective vaccination programme.

The aim of this project is to control the spread of PRRS in the Cookstown Area through improved biosecurity, a coordinated vaccination programme and enhanced monitoring.

How will the project be implemented?

The project will start by establishing baseline COMBAT (biosecurity) scores for each breeding unit in the Operational Group, based on internal and external biosecurity, and the location and management of each unit.  In addition, bloods will be taken and analysed to determine if PRRS virus is present.  

Each pig producer will be provided with ongoing training and mentoring by specialised vets and their peers to help bring about any necessary changes in the management of their breeding units.    There will be repeats of COMBAT scoring and blood analysis approximately 10 and 28 months after completion of initial assessment to quantify the improvements in internal/external biosecurity and management. 

The Operational Group will also develop health mapping software which will notify producers and veterinarians of where disease incidents are geographically, thus providing rapid identification and quantification of the risk of disease to any unit, which will aid decision making.

The findings from this project will inform future strategies to improve the management of the PRRS virus throughout the pig sector in Northern Ireland.

How can I find out more?

To find out more information on this project contact