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Meeting to combat devastating disease in pigs

International experts are to meet to discuss ways of combating a fast mutating virus affecting pig herds.

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The meeting in Edinburgh will look at ways of improving and sharing knowledge relating to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). 

Although the economic impact of PRRSV has not yet been quantified in Europe, the virus is estimated to cost the American swine industry around $600 million a year, almost a third of its losses related to infectious diseases.

The event at The Roslin Institute at the University  of Edinburgh is part of an initiative to better understand the impact of the virus and improved way of controlling it.

The condition, also known as Blue-Ear Pig Disease, leads to reproductive failure in breeding stock and respiratory tract illness in young pigs. It can also prove fatal, as it affects pigs immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to other infections.

Since PRRSV was first discovered just over two decades ago, American and European types have been categorised.

However, the virus itself evolves rapidly consequently and there are now many genetic variants. This has caused challenges in vaccine production as an inoculation against one strain does not prevent against another strain of the virus.

More than 30 experts from countries including America, Canada, Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany, Greece and the UK will attend the workshop in Edinburgh on January 27th and 28th.

The meeting will look at ways that mathematical modelling can help combat the disease, both in terms of movement and breeding control of pigs.

It forms part of the EuroPRRSnet initiative, funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, and coordinated by The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

The initiative brings together experts from 15 countries and 23 institutions to understand the impact of the virus in Europe. It will develop multidisciplinary collaborative research focussed on epidemiology, immuno-pathology, vaccine development and diagnostics. 

This virus has had a major impact on pig health and welfare. Although changes in husbandry have helped, outbreaks of this severe disease still occur and it is particularly devastating in developing countries. Working together we will be able to share knowledge from a wide range of expertise to limit the damage caused by this disease.

Dr Tahar Ait-AliProject co-ordinator of the EuroPRRSnet initiative


For more information please contact: 

Tara Womersley

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