Suspected Outbreak of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) | Western Cape Government


Suspected Outbreak of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS)

17 June 2004
Statement By Cobus Dowry Minister Of Agriculture: Western Cape

Preliminary tests done at Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute indicate the diagnosis of (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) PRRS or commonly known as Blue-ear Disease of pigs, on a pig farm in the Cape Flats area of the Western Cape. As far as can be ascertained, only one farm appears to be involved, but investigation as to the possible source and extent of the disease has been initiated. The disease will only be finally confirmed after the causative virus has been isolated.

This viral disease has never being diagnosed in South Africa before, although it is occurs in Europe and the United States of America where, it was first identified in 1987. The South African Pork Producers Organisation annually conduct random surveys to ensure that South Africa is free of the most important trade-sensitive diseases of pigs including Blue-ear Disease. The last survey done towards the end of 2003, showed no trace of PRRS on the farms sampled at the time. As to how the disease may have entered South Africa is unknown at this stage, but this will be under intensive investigation by an epidemiological survey currently conducted by the Department of Agriculture of the Western Cape.

Abortion, premature farrowing, stillborn and mummified piglets, and respiratory disease with death loss and chronic poor performance of nursing and weaned pigs characterize the disease. The first indication of it's presence on a farm may be the sudden onset of an abortions during which much higher than usual numbers of sows abort in late pregnancy. Transmission is usually directly from animals to animals via ora-nasal secretions and through faeces or urine. Total quarantine and movement ban of pigs from the suspect infected farm has already been instituted.

It is important to put the minds of the general public and all pig producers at ease, knowing there is minimal risk of other farms becoming infected, provided pig producers practice strict bio-security measures and be careful to buy pigs from sources of high health status only.

The Director of Veterinary Services of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Dr Gideon Brückner, advises all producers to notify their veterinarian of any abnormally high abortion figures or if they suspect that any of the above-mentioned clinical signs are evident on their farms in a higher than normal proportion.

The national Department of Agriculture will also notify the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) on the suspect outbreak of the disease and will collaborate closely with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture in the investigation and containment of the disease.

Dr Brückner confirmed that the outbreak of the disease on the farm is under State control and further extensive investigations will be implemented to ascertain exactly how widespread the disease is. He urged all pig veterinarians to assist in helping to determine the extent of the disease as soon as possible and that they contact the State Veterinarian Boland, Dr.Gary Bührmann on Tel: 021 808 5253 should they be able to assist with information.

Enquiries to the Minister:
Alie Van Jaarsveld
084 604 6701