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Area Coordinated Disease Control: Tools, methods and collaborations targeting PRRS in the US

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For the past 20 years In the US, we have learned a great deal about PRRS and PRRS virus. However, the nature of our learning has changed significantly in recent years – expanding beyond the organism and the disease, to encompass directly the scope and scale with which we approach both, as well as indirectly how we approach the behavior of the individuals and communities responsible for effectively managing PRRS .

PRRS has been an unrelenting and unforgiving educator, and we have all too often been poorly engaged students. As a national industry, we have done (and continue to do) many things wrong in terms of the methods we utilize, the processes we employ and in their execution. However, through this painful and slow learning process of confronting PRRS we believe we have begun to do more things right. We have identified and begun to apply promising ways to more effectively measure and manage PRRS ; one of the most promising being the implementation and scaling of a collaborative and coordinated area- and network-based approach.

For too long we’d broken the “rules” of good management at all levels but had gotten away with it, until PRRS . We’ve wasted considerable resources trying to drown the problem(s) with antibiotics and vaccines without first correcting our management rule breaking habits. We believed that modern pig flow and management methods could effectively separate pigs from all meaningful diseases, including PRRS . We were naïve, but we’ve been emerging from our naiveté.

We continue to learn the importance of and effective execution of risk detection, management and mitigation within sites, within areas and across networks. We are learning better ways for the detection and characterization of PRRS , as well as the cost of doing so poorly. We have realized that, to understand and effectively manage PRRS for any one pig producer, we must understand and effectively manage PRRS for a critical mass of producers and their pig sites/populations, be they proximal neighbors or distant but connected.

We’re taking better advantage of available tools like the AASV Production Animal Risk Assessment Program (PADRAP) and the UC-Davis CADMS Disease BioPortal. We’re better leveraging developing tools like oral fluid sampling, PCR and genetic sequencing to understand and track virus emergence, transmission and circulation within and among sites, as well as within and among areas and networks. We’re learning the hard way that more intensive and continuous communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration – interdependence – is showing distinct advantages for each of us individually and all of us collectively, appearing to be superior to our traditional predisposition for isolation and independence.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Infectious Diseases series.

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