New Test for PRRS
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jan Williams, College of Veterinary Medicine,
University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Announces New Test for Devastating Swine Disease
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (July 12, 2005) – Scientists at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine have developed a new and improved test for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), the No. 1 infectious disease affecting the swine industry.
The new TaqMan-based RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test can detect widely divergent genetic isolates in one clinical assay and is more sensitive for some isolates than other tests. The new test will reduce cost and turnaround time because the two major strains of PRRS virus, the European and North American strains, are detected by the same test. The expected date of availability is July 18, 2005.
The new test was developed by Kay Faaberg, Jun Han, Sarah Herrin, Yin Jiang, and Carrie Wees. The final version was validated with the help of Kurt Rossow, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Claudia Munoz-Zanzi, D.V.M., Ph.D. The team received funding from PIC Inc., the Minnesota Rapid Agricultural Response Fund, and the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
PRRS virus is transmitted in the semen of boars or from pig-to-pig contact. It can spread rapidly, causing stillbirths, low birth weight, premature birth, pneumonia, and death. The disease can be devastating to pork producers, costing some producers hundreds of thousands of dollars and putting others out of business.
“Protecting animal health is among the highest priorities of the pork industry,” said Jim Collins, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. “The new and more economical TaqMan NA/EU test will help prevent the spread of PRRS virus and can someday be used to eradicate this costly disease.”
“Our diagnostic laboratory is one of the nation’s leaders in protecting the pork industry through timely and accurate diagnostic tests,” said Jeffery Klausner, D.V.M., dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “With this new, improved test for PRRS, we’re further strengthening that industry and providing value-added services that can improve a producer’s bottom line.”
Minnesota has long been a major pork-producing state. With about 6.4 million hogs on more than 6,200 farms, it ranks third in the nation for total number of pigs. About 22,550 Minnesota residents are involved in various aspects of the pork industry, from production to processing and handling. Based on 2002 levels of production, an estimated $808.2 million of personal income and $1.22 billion of gross state product are supported by the pork industry.
Established in 1904, the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is dedicated to identifying emerging diseases, developing new and more effective diagnostic methods, and training veterinarians and graduate students. It serves as the official laboratory of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and is the state’s only full-service, accredited animal diagnostic facility, charged with diagnosing such infectious diseases as PRRS, Johne’s disease in dairy cattle, avian pneumovirus in turkeys, chronic wasting disease, and West Nile virus. The lab conducted more than 1 million diagnostic tests in 2004.
The College of Veterinary Medicine improves the health and well-being of animals and people by providing high-quality veterinary training, conducting leading-edge research, and delivering innovative veterinary services.