Risk Assessment of the Introduction of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus via Boar Semen into Switzerland as an Example of a PRRSV-Free Country

Nathues, C and Zimmerli, U and Hauser, R and Nathues, H and Beilage, E G and Schuepbach-Regula, G (2014) Risk Assessment of the Introduction of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus via Boar Semen into Switzerland as an Example of a PRRSV-Free Country. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 61 (6). pp. 546-554.

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Abstract

Switzerland is currently porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) free, but semen imports from PRRSV‐infected European countries are increasing. As the virus can be transmitted via semen, for example, when a free boar stud becomes infected, and the risk of its import in terms of PRRSV introduction is unknown, the annual probability to accidentally import the virus into Switzerland was estimated in a risk assessment. A quantitative stochastic model was set up with data comprised by import figures of 2010, interviews with boar stud owners and expert opinion. It resulted in an annual median number of 0.18 imported ejaculates (= imported semen doses from one collection from one donor) from PRRSV‐infected boars. Hence, one infected ejaculate would be imported every 6 years and infect a mean of 10 sows. These results suggest that under current circumstances, there is a substantial risk of PRRSV introduction into Switzerland via imported boar semen and that measures to enhance safety of imports should be taken. The time from infection of a previously negative boar stud to its detection had the highest impact on the number of imported ‘positive’ ejaculates. Therefore, emphasis should be placed on PRRSV monitoring protocols in boar studs. Results indicated that a substantial increase in safety could only be achieved with much tighter sampling protocols than currently performed. Generally, the model could easily be customized for other applications like other countries or regions or even sow farms that want to estimate their risk when purchasing semen from a particular boar stud.