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The treasure of being free of PRRS

June 6, 2017

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blog by Peter van Kemenade, Regional director North and South America

Brazil keeps amazing me. It is a large and dynamic country. Its pork production is one of the best in the world. In April I visited the country for our annual sales and marketing meeting for the Americas and one of the things I realized again, is that Brazil is still PRRS free! While in most of Central and North America PRRS outbreaks are a continuous battle, this disease is not present in Brazil. Many might have the idea that fighting PRRS is also one of main challenges of the Brazilian pig industry but the reality is different.

PRRS is absent! How did the Brazilians keep this virus out? In my opinion they have two big plus factors, which are geography and a mild climate. The virus is not or hardly present in the neighboring countries. East of the Andes the virus is not present at all with Argentina and Uruguay also being free of PRRS. From the West side it is hard to enter the country by truck, as It is surrounded by jungle, the Andes, and oceans. Chile is also a country with high biosecurity and when PRRS enters they try to eradicate it.

But Brazil’s PRRS free status is not only a gift of nature and geography. The Brazilian government together with the industry has organized a strict quarantine procedure for imported animals. All animals that enter the country need to be put in an isolated central quarantine stable on a peninsula in a river in Sao Paulo State. A smart way of working. The quarantine is not only run by the government. It is also partly owned by the importers of animals, which are mainly genetic companies. In that way everybody is responsible and committed.

Brazil harvests the benefits of being PRRS free. The first benefit is that they have fewer problems controlling other diseases. Also they do not have problems caused by the virus itself. This all pays in two ways: less veterinarian costs and also a more efficient production. Both of these lead to a lower cost price of production of pork.

The absence of PRRS is therefore very valuable. I hope Brazil can keep this status. But this cannot be taken for granted. Brazil has to keep its eyes open, as countries on the other side of the Andes have reported more and more problems with PRRS outbreaks. So the next challenge for the Brazilian pork industry is to make sure the disease does not pass the mountains. Guarding the treasure of being PRRS free.