Risk factors for infection of sow herds with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus

Sten Mortensen, Henrik Stryhn, Rikke Søgaard, Anette Boklund, Katharina D. C. Stärk, Jette Christensen, Preben Willeberg

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    In 1992, the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) of European type (PRRSV-EU) was introduced in Denmark. By 1996, the virus had spread to approximately 25% of the Danish herds. In January 1996, a modified-live vaccine based on the American type of the virus (PRRSV-US) was used in replacement boars for Danish artificial insemination (AI) centres and from July 1996, the vaccine was used in PRRSV-EU infected herds for prevention of disease. Soon after vaccine introduction, PRRSV non-infected herds experienced outbreaks of disease due to infection with PRRSV-US. In this study, we investigated the risk factors (biosecurity level, animals, exposure from PRRSV-US-infected neighbour herds, semen, herd size, pig density and herd density) for infection with PRRSV-US in a cohort of 1071 sow herds; we used a nested case-control study. The retrospective observation period lasted from June 1996 (when they all were noninfected) to October 1997. Seventy-three non-vaccinated, closed sow herds became infected with the vaccine strain during this period. Each case herd was matched with two control herds from the cohort (controls had not been infected at the time of infection in the case herds). The data were analysed using a Cox-regression model. The hazard of infection increased significantly with exposure from PRRSV-US-infected neighbouring herds, purchase of animals from herds incubating PRRSV-US infection, increasing herd size and purchase of semen from boars at PRRSV-US-infected AI centres. The results are consistent with the modified-live vaccine strain spread to other herds by trade with animals and semen and by neighbour (area) transmission. We suggest that virus spread by aerosols was a frequent mode of transmission.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
    Issue number1-2
    Pages (from-to)83-101
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • herd level
    • nested case-control
    • porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus
    • transmission
    • risk factors
    • vaccine


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