We interviewed Albert Finestra Uriol about the study carried out together with the GSP of Girona and Biocidas ZIX to solve one of the pathologies that most worries the pig sector, the Porcine Reproductive, and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS).
This virus poses a very important risk in areas with a high density of pig farms due to the implications it entails and the high economic losses it generates, being the scourge for sites 1 (sows farms), sites 2 (weaning) and causing figures of mortality never seen in sites 3 (fattening).
We are facing one of the most convulsive times in recent years, with many challenges ahead, such as the prohibition of zinc oxide, the prudent use of antibiotics, the complication of finding good staff for farms, and, above all, with a very complex scenario in terms of costs due to the increase in raw materials and health problems. Everything means that ingenuity must be sharpened to overcome this time with the least possible damage.
But not everything is negative, since the Spanish pig industry is the best positioned to withstand these challenges and is still going to gain more weight on the European and world map.
1- We have past references to the eradication of other diseases. You were one of the architects of the eradication of Aujeszky. How was it achieved?
It is one of the most beautiful professional tasks in which I have participated. It was achieved with the efforts of many by carrying out a Coordinated Program in which the Administration, the Pig Sector and Veterinarians work side by side to be able to eradicate Aujeszky’s Disease in a very reasonable time the example of Spain has been used as a model to be able to implement it in other parts of the world.
2- What is the most frequent state that you find in the farms that you visit?
Most farms are positive and in most cases unstable, have had a recent outbreak, or are experiencing one. That is the most common scenario, without forgetting those in which the virus has remained chronic on the farm.
Therefore, at this time the prevalence is very high and the virulence of the new strains is extreme.
3- What difficulties do you encounter when dealing with PRRS?
Strong and effective therapeutic solutions are lacking. It is highly exasperating not being able to solve the pathological problems that we face successfully. This situation generates a feeling of helplessness that often means that we accept very high losses on our farms.
For this reason, we have thought of this new strategy to help alleviate the impact of the new highly pathogenic strains and achieve yet another tool that is more successful than the ones we have available to date.
4- How do you think the program that you have proposed together with the GSP of Girona and Biocidas ZIX will contribute?
Well, at the moment it is unknown, some colleagues think it is ineffective or meaningless, but what are we going to do, there is much to gain and nothing to lose.
We are convinced that it can help a lot to control PRRS, so we are testing it in the field and by the way control other very insidious pathologies on farms.
5- What are the changes in the pathogenicity of the strains in recent years due to?
Well, several factors, but in my opinion, there are two that stand out above all:
- The growth of the pig sector and all that this entails, many more movements of animals and all the products that surround the pig, slurry, trucks, materials, people, etc.
- The ease with which the virus mutates is intrinsic to RNA viruses, but what is special in this case is that it continually escapes from the animal’s immune system and from the barriers we put on it.
6- When you plan a PRRS control program, what are the objectives that are normally set?
The first objective is to achieve the stability of the exploitation as soon as possible, later it is to recover the normal production parameters.
7- Is this environmental disinfection protocol effective for disease control?
In principle, we are convinced that this is the case and we are demonstrating it with the recovery of production parameters, which is the most effective. That is not to say that animals are not infected, which is perhaps an idea that readers may think of, but we are sure that they do so at much lower doses.
8- How have the results been monitored?
We have done this by bleeding and controlling contamination on surfaces.
9- How do you think this protocol will contribute to the fight against PRRS?
At the moment there is uncertainty, like all innovation. We have the feeling that it has a long way to go and not only for PRRS but for other pathologies.
10- What factors intervene in the success of the protocol?
Know the weakest parts of the infection chain and protect them as much as possible.
11- What future do these plans have in areas of high pig density?
This protocol, combined with the rest of the measures such as external and internal biosecurity, vaccination, flow improvements, can be one more element that will stay with us forever.