West Michigan PRRS ARC Project is ramping up reporting and surveillance procedures

Increased surveillance and reporting will help producers avoid PRRS outbreaks and make better management decisions.

In Sept. 2008 local veterinarians and Michigan State University (MSU) Extension staff introduced the concept of area regional control for the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus in West Michigan. With the help of local producers, allied industry, veterinarians and MSU Extension, this project has continued to make progress and is making strides in the area of regional control. The West Michigan Area Regional Control (ARC) Project has been awarded two USDA funded grants through the PRRS Coordinated Agriculture Project (CAP) program. This project is concentrating their efforts on increasing the surveillance of the disease and reporting disease outbreaks in the area.

As the program moves into the control and stabilization phase, it is essential to have good participation from veterinarians, producers and allied industry members. In order to continue with forward progress, program leaders have begun tracking the status of each farm and site on a regular basis. At this time each owner/veterinarian has been asked to report the status of each of their sites on a bi-monthly basis. This information will be compiled into a database and summarized for participants. The goal is to have bi-monthly reports from each and every site in the area, including non-changing status reports. Summarized status change reports and maps will be generated so that they can be sent to the participants. This information will allow producers to see when and where a status change takes place and have a detailed understanding of the health status of the region.

Herd veterinarians have been asked to assist producers and the site managers with accurately reporting the status of herds in the area. They will also help producers determine if the status of a site has changed or if clinical signs are present using a visual assessment process. If clinical signs are expressed, veterinarians will then work with producers to complete diagnostics by using either a blood or saliva test. Testing will only be needed if the herd is exhibiting signs of an outbreak. This information will also be compiled and tracked by the project leadership. Funding is available through the steering committee to assist with expenses incurred with diagnostic testing.

Once this information is reported and compiled it will be distributed to program participates. The expectation is that producers and veterinarians will use this information to make production management decision such as deciding whether they need to vaccinate, sell early or take no action. The collective sharing of this information will strengthen producers’ ability to fight the spread of the virus. It will also allow the program to track the movement of outbreaks which will generate baseline data for producers and improve the understanding of the virus and how it travels through the region.

As the West Michigan ARC PRRS Project continues to gain momentum and becomes more focused on the goal of stabilizing the PRRS virus in the Allegan and Ottawa Counties, participation by all producers and veterinarians in the area increases in importance. Emphasis on increased biosecurity education and the development of regional protocols are areas in which the project will continue to focus on.

The project is also committed to gaining a better understanding of the trucking routes, production methods and issues for the area and increasing knowledge about aerial transmission of the virus. With the increase in surveillance, monitoring and reporting of PRRS activity in the area, program participation will see a growth in information and gain a better understanding of the severity of the virus in the area. Communication between program leadership, participants and practitioners will remain important as the project progresses and producers work to stabilize and eliminate the virus in their herds.

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