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Risk factors for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus infection and resulting challenges for effective disease surveillance

Martina Velasova1*, Pablo Alarcon1, Susanna Williamson2 and Barbara Wieland1

Author affiliations

1 The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

2 Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Rougham Hill, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, United Kingdom

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Citation and License

BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:184  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-184

Published: 4 October 2012



This study aimed to identify risk factors for active porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) infection at farm level and to assess the probability of an infected farm being detected through passive disease surveillance in England. Data were obtained from a cross-sectional study on 147 farrow-to-finish farms conducted from April 2008 – April 2009. The risk factors for active PRRSV infection were identified using multivariable logistic regression analysis. The surveillance system was evaluated using a stochastic scenario tree model.


Evidence of PRRSV circulation was confirmed on 35.1% (95%CI: 26.8-43.4) of farms in the cross sectional study, with a higher proportion of infected farms in areas with high pig density (more than 15000 pigs within 10 km radius from the farm). Farms were more likely to have active PRRSV infection if they used the live virus vaccine-Porcilis PRRS (OR=7.5, 95%CI: 2.5-22.8), were located in high pig density areas (OR=2.9, 95%CI: 1.0-8.3) or had dead pigs collected (OR=5.6, 95%CI: 1.7-18.3). Farms that weaned pigs at 28 days of age or later had lower odds of being PRRSV positive compared to those weaning at 21-27 days (OR=0.2, 95%CI: 0.1-0.7). The probability of detecting an infected farm through passive surveillance for disease was low (mode=0.074, 5th and 95th percentiles: 0.067; 0.083 respectively). In particular farms which used live virus vaccine had lower probabilities for detection compared to those which did not.


Risk factors identified highlight the importance of biosecurity measures for the incursion of PRRSV infection. The results further indicate that a combined approach of surveillance for infection and disease diagnosis is needed to assist effective control and/or elimination of PRRSV from the pig population.