Research to Make Alberta PRRS-Free

6 September 2012, at 10:40am

CANADA - In partnership with industry, the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) is funding three research projects that help eliminate PRRS in pig herds, with the long-term goal of achieving a Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) free status for Alberta.

The University of Calgary’s Dr Markus Czub is evaluating the feasibility of pen-side diagnostics for PRRS. With immediate on-farm detection and diagnosis, PRRS will become easier to control and eliminate. The creation of a chute-side tool for detection of PRRS provides timely diagnostics to further support research initiatives.

Presently, the only existing PRRS vaccine is a modified live vaccine that comes with risks. Dr Volker Gerdts of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Saskatchewan is using ALMA funding to create a novel PRRS vaccine and adjuvant formula.

This project could provide a single-shot vaccine that will broadly protect against North American, European and other highly infectious strains of PRRS.

Dr Frank Marshall of Marshall Vet Services in Camrose is performing surveillance and serology testing on 23 Alberta farms through an Area and Regional Control and Eradication (ARC & E) pilot project. This multi-year project will lead to produceroriented PRRS assessments, while developing standard operating procedures that will help reduce the effects of PRRS in Western Canada.

“In swine production, costs of production are critical to control,“ says Dr Marshall. “We know that in a PRRS-positive herd we incur an extra $5-8 to produce a market animal.“

These figures contribute to more than $130 million in extra costs to national pork producers, according to Canadian Swine Health Board Executive Director Robert Harding. Market limitations also factor into his figure and Harding believes: “The elimination of PRRS within a province or region would provide real opportunities for enhanced market access.“

By partnering with industry to spur important research, ALMA is helping realize Alberta’s long-term goal of PRRS-free status.

A PRRS-free Alberta will be able to increase exports of pork and live pigs to international PRRS-free markets. The outcomes of these projects will provide a greater return for producers, while also building a stronger local and national pork industry.

To learn more about ALMA’s approach to food safety, and human, animal and ecosystem health download our “One Health Roadmap: A New View“ or visit

Further Reading

Find out more information on porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) by clicking here.