Assessment of area spread of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus in three clusters of swine farms.
Despite decades of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) research, outbreaks with emerging and re-emerging PRRS virus (PRRSV) strains are not uncommon in North America. The role of area spread, commonly referred but not limited to airborne transmission, in originating such outbreaks is currently unknown. The main objective of this study was to explore the role of area spread on the occurrence of new PRRSV cases by combining information on genetic similarity among recovered PRRSV isolate's open-reading frame (ORF) 5 sequences and publicly available weather data. Three small regions were enrolled in the study for which high farm-level participation rate was achieved, and swine sites within those regions were readily sampled after reporting of an outbreak in a sow farm. Oral fluid PCR testing was used to determine PRRSV status of farms, and wind roses were generated for assessment of prevailing wind directions during 2-14 days preceding the outbreak. Under the conditions of this study, the data did not support the area spread theory as the main cause for these outbreaks. We suggest that for future studies, analysis of animal movement and other links between farms such as personnel, equipment and sharing of service providers should be incorporated for better insights on source of the virus. Furthermore, the development of rapid and easy diagnostic methods for ruling out resident PRRSV is urgently needed.