Use data to inform your PRRSV protocols

Checking the weather forecast each morning can sometimes change your plans for the day. Rain in the forecast might mean you’re doing paperwork instead of fieldwork. The same principle can apply to your herd health protocols.

Dr. Daniel Linhares, an associate professor and director of graduate research at Iowa State University, hopes the ability to regularly access swine disease diagnostic data across the U.S. will allow you to adjust your herd health protocols accordingly.

The Swine Disease Reporting System (SDRS) is making this a reality.

Universities across the U.S. are contributing veterinary diagnostic data to the SDRS to create real-time disease monitoring dashboards for swine veterinarians and pork producers.

“This data can be used as a benchmarking tool to identify relevant disease threats and adjust on-farm biosecurity practices,” Linhares says. “You can see disease pressure in your region and keep an eye on what is happening on systems around you so you are not surprised.”

SDRS is funded by the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC). The system collects and reports data about diseases by state and by the age of pigs. The data has been used to guide the allocation of federal resources where it’s most needed to protect the national swine herd.

PRRSV on the rise

The first thing you will see when accessing the SDRS data at is an increase in the number of cases of Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRSV) in the U.S. Also on the rise are the number of strains identified as causing outbreaks.

Multiple factors are contributing to the increase in cases and strains. One factor is the availability of new sample types used for testing since 2018. New sample options include testing processing fluids (fluids collected during castration or tail docking) and, more recently, sampling tongue tips from stillborn piglets or piglets that die before weaning.

Another contributing factor is the continued evolution of the PRRS virus, Linhares says. Starting in late 2019, new, relatively high-virulence strains have circulated in the U.S, including the PRRS 144 strain, which broke first in Iowa and Minnesota and has since expanded to other Midwest states. The increased disease pressure has resulted in more sample submissions and positive tests.

Vulnerability in grow-finish

In addition to an overall increase in cases, SDRS data shows PRRSV activity is higher in grow-finish than in sow farms. Connection points between grow-finish sites likely contribute to the increased cases, Linhares says. Potential connections include shared labor, truck wash stations, feed delivery or dead-stock removal. Indirect connections such as bodies of water or wind currents also could play a role.

The data also shows regional spikes in grow-finish cases precede spikes in sow farm cases.

The SDRS program does not collect data about biosecurity practices at disease-impacted sites. But, the increase in cases and strains supports the need for increased biosecurity at grow-finish sites to protect the U.S. herd, Linhares says.

“Improving grow-finish biosecurity is key to protecting sow herds,” Linhares says. “The industry is strongly interconnected, supporting the need for a holistic approach to managing disease.”

This summer, SHIC reallocated $1 million from its 2022 budget to research and respond to the gap in biosecurity at the finishing phase of the U.S. swine herd.

Find more information about PRRSV and other diseases at

Are you looking for ways to improve your herd health protocols? The Pharmgate team, including our technical service veterinarians, is here to help.