To control and eliminate porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv) from breeding herds, some veterinarians adopt a strategy called load-close-expose which consists of interrupting replacement pig introduction for several months and exposing the pigs to a replicating PRRSv. This was a prospective quasi-experiment that followed 61 breeding herds acutely infected with PRRSv that adopted one of two exposure programs: modified-live virus (MLV) vaccine or live-resident virus inoculation (LVI).
Treatment groups (load-close-expose with MLV or LVI) were compared for: (a) time-to-PRRSv stability (TTS), defined as time in weeks it took to produce PRRSv negative pigs at weaning; (b) the time-to-baseline production (TTBP), defined using statistical process control methods to represent time to recover to the number of pigs weaned per week that herds had prior to PRRSv-detection; and (c) the total production loss in terms of number of pigs weaned per week. TTS and TTBP were compared between treatments using survival analysis. Day 1 of the program was considered to be the day that treatment was administered. Sampling at herds consisted of bleeding 30 due-to-wean piglets on a monthly basis.
Serum was tested for PRRSv RNA by RT-PCR. Herds in which PRRSv was not detected over a 90-day period were classified as reaching stability. Multivariate analysis using proportional hazards regression was performed adjusting the effect of treatment on TTBP and TTS to 'severity of PRRSv infection', 'number of whole-herd exposures', 'days from PRRSv-detection to intervention', 'prior PRRSv-infection status' and 'veterinary clinic associated with the herd'. Total loss was compared between groups using multivariate regression analysis adjusted by selected covariates. The median TTS among participating herds was 26.6 weeks (25th to 75th percentile, 21.6-33.0 weeks). The overall TTBP was 16.5 weeks (range 0-29 weeks). The magnitude of production losses following whole-herd exposure averaged 2217 pigs not weaned/1000 sows and was correlated with TTBP. Herds in the MLV group recovered production sooner and had less total loss than herds in the LVI group. TTBP and TTS were significantly shorter and the total loss was significantly less in herds assisted by a specific veterinary clinic and herds that were infected with PRRSv in the 3 years prior to the study. This study provided new metrics to assist veterinarians to decide between methods of exposure to control and eliminate PRRSv from breeding herds.