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Latest on PRRS risk management

By SAPPO’s Health Committee
SAPPO identified some risk factors that had to be managed to ensure that PRRS was not re-introduced into South Africa. The more important risk factors identified were:  galley waste, imported live pigs carrying the virus, semen and unprocessed raw pork containing lymph tissue.
Many countries are initiating PRRS eradication programmes including USA (Midwest states), Canada (Ontario), France and Chile to name but a few. Over and above the costs of PRRS, controlling PRRS has been fraught with challenges. Vaccinations have largely proved unreliable and in some instances have exacerbated disease situations. There are numerous reports of mutated vaccine strains been implicated in PRRS breakdowns.
The cost of PRRS to the South African pig farmer would be significant. Some studies have indicated that these losses would be in the order of R750 – R1 000 per breeding female per year. In SA terms with 100 000 sows this could cost the country a minimum of R75 million per annum if PRRS became endemic. The result would be impairment on the competitiveness of the South African pork industry globally, followed by fewer pig farms, loss of jobs and a severe hurdle for emerging farmers wanting to enter the pig industry.
1.    To prevent the risk of PRRS entering the country, SAPPO does regular independent, unannounced audit inspections on galley waste removal procedures.
2.    Vigorous surveillance and testing is done on live pigs to be imported, firstly in the country of origin and secondly, once live pigs have arrived in the quarantine facilities where they are housed.
3.    Similar testing is done on donor boars in countries of origin before the semen is shipped to the RSA.
4.    The Veterinary Procedural Notice (VPN 42), which governs which pork products can be imported without restriction and which pork products need to go to a registered facility for further processing before being sold, has now come into effect. (Implemented 31st May 2013)
Trade and importation of pork commodities is to be encouraged, but the risks and dangers of PRRS affecting our national pig herd must be mitigated. SAPPO understands that a zero risk policy would preclude any importations, which would not be in the best interests of our consumers or pig industry as a whole, thus the control and audit procedures envisaged in the VPN is a satisfactory compromise.
SAPPO calls on producers to remain vigilant, practice good biosecurity, encourage them to become compartmentalised and seriously consider joining the Pork 360 quality assurance scheme.
“A healthy national herd is good for the producer, the pigs and the consumer.”

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