Zoetis to sponsor postgraduate research fellowship at Iowa State University

Farm Forum

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A study at Iowa State University may give pork producers new insights on how to manage the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). A postgraduate fellow, sponsored by Zoetis, will work with other university scholars to identify herd-specific best practices to prevent, control and/or eliminate PRRS virus (PRRSv).

Although pork researchers have learned much over the years about how this virus spreads and infects pigs, PRRS remains a troublesome disease. A 2013 study showed reproductive losses and decreased pig performance cost the industry $664 million per year.1

“We as an industry have a great opportunity to improve PRRS management,” said Jose Angulo, DVM, Managing Veterinarian and PRRS Specialist, U.S. Pork Technical Services, Zoetis. “This study will examine risk factors such as herd size, biosecurity, whole herd immunity and gilt flow to analyze current control and elimination PRRSv strategies and develop a more tailored approach to address PRRSv in breeding herds and reduce production impacts.”

The student sponsored by Zoetis will work alongside Daniel Linhares, DVM, MBA, PhD, assistant professor, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, and Derald Holtkamp, DVM, MS, associate professor, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine. Both Iowa State University professors have been actively involved in recent field-applied PRRSv research projects. The total value of the fellowship is $105,263.

“There is still great variability on the efficacy of PRRS control programs to reduce herd impact; part of that variability is due to variation of pig flow and system layout,” Dr. Linhares said. “We’re eager to partner with Zoetis so that we can help producers understand interactions between breeding herd characteristics and PRRSv management strategies.”

During the upcoming project, the researchers are targeting at least 135 breeding herds over a two-year period. Herds will be studied in groups based on similar herd characteristics and PRRSv management goals. Researchers hope to identify best PRRSv management practices to reduce economic and production impact.

The approach, also known as precision medicine, is common in human health studies that examine diseases from an epidemiological standpoint. Precision medicine considers the interaction between the host, environment, pathogen and other associated risk factors.

“It is difficult to have a one-size-fits-all management strategy for PRRSv because of the complexity in the virus as well as differences in herds,” Dr. Angulo said. “Each herd has its own unique set of challenges. Identifying successful virus control strategies for comparable herds puts the industry one step closer to eliminating PRRSv nationwide. Zoetis is proud to support young veterinary professionals as they help our industry achieve this goal.”

For more information on the study or how you can participate, contact Will Lopez, DVM, willopez@iastate.edu, 515-735-8216; Daniel Linhares, DVM, MBA, PhD, Linhares@iastate.edu, 515-357-1044; or Derald Holtkamp, DVM, MS, Holtkamp@iastate.edu, 515-294-9611.