Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus

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Virus classification
Group: Group IV ((+)ssRNA)
Order: Nidovirales
Family: Arteriviridae
Genus: Arterivirus
Species: Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus
For the Marvel Comics Superhero, see Blue Ear (comics).

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is a virus that causes a disease of pigs, called porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), also known as blue-ear pig disease (in Chinese, zhū láněr bìng 豬藍耳病). This economically important, panzootic disease causes reproductive failure in breeding stock and respiratory tract illness in young pigs. Initially referred to as "mystery swine disease" and "mystery reproductive syndrome," it was first reported in 1987 in North America (2) and Central Europe (3). The disease costs the United States swine industry around $644 million annually, and recent estimates in Europe found that it costs almost 1.5b€ every year.


PRRSV is a small, enveloped RNA virus. It contains a single-stranded, positive-sense, RNA genome with a size of approximately 15 kilobases. The genome contains nine open reading frames (Meulenburg et al., 1992, Lee and Yoo, 2005).

PRRSV is a member of the genus Arterivirus, family Arteriviridae, order Nidovirales.[1] The three other members of the genus Arterivirus are: equine arteritis virus, simian hemorrhagic fever virus, and lactate dehydrogenase elevating virus (4-5).


The two prototype strains of PRRSV are the North American strain, VR-2332, and the European strain, the Lelystad virus (LV). The European and North American PRRSV strains cause similar clinical symptoms, but represent two distinct viral genotypes whose genomes diverge by approximately 40% (6), thus creating a veil of mystery about the origin of this virus. The genetic variation among the viruses isolated from different places (7-8) increases the difficulty of developing vaccines against it. Similarly, maintaining diagnostic PCR detection assays is difficult due to the high mutation rate of this virus, see Risk of Missed PRRS PCR Detection.

In the early 2000s a highly pathogenic strain of the North American genotype emerged in China. This strain, HP-PRRSV, is more virulent than all other strains, and causes great losses in Asian countries worldwide. Later a study showed that accelerated evolution of a group of strains in China.[2]

Clinical signs[edit]

Subclinical infections are common, with clinical signs occurring sporadically in a herd. Clinical signs include reproductive failure in sows such as abortions and giving birth to stillborn or mummified fetuses, and cyanosis of the ear and vulva. In neonatal pigs, the disease causes respiratory distress, with increased susceptibility to respiratory infections such as Glasser's disease.


Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is a complex disease. Modified Live Vaccines (MLV) vaccines are the primary immunological tool for its control, but PRRS control goes way beyond than just vaccination, and in order to achieve sustainable results, a systematic approach should be implemented. It requires a full understanding of the disease and a set of tools to achieve a long term success, therefore a standardized 5 step process has been developed to successfully achieve PRRS control. A strong platform to consolidate PRRS control in pig farms, large production systems and even geographical areas has been developed. This platform is a pig population approach having as main goals: - to maximize immunity, - reduce PRRS virus (PRRSv) exposure and - prevent new PRRSv infections. The Complexity of PRRS has allowed implementing successfully this methodology in the Swine Industry around the globe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Balasuriya and Snijder (2008). "Arteriviruses". Animal Viruses: Molecular Biology. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-22-6. 
  2. ^ Song J, Shen D, Cui J, Zhao B (Oct 2010). "Accelerated evolution of PRRSV during recent outbreaks in China". Virus Genes 41 (2): 241–5. doi:10.1007/s11262-010-0507-2. PMID 20652733. 
  • Benfield D, Collins J, Dee S, Halbur P, Joo H, Lager K, et al. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. In: Straw BE, D’Allaire S, Mengeling WL, Taylor DJ, editors. Diseases of the swine. 8th ed. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press; 1999. p. 201–32.
  • Collins J, Benfield D, Christianson W, Harris L, Hennings J, Shaw D, et al. Isolation of swine infertility and respiratory syndrome virus (isolate ATCC VR-2332) in North America and experimental reproduction of the disease in gnotobiotic pigs. J Vet Diagn Invest 1992;4:117–26
  • Wensvoort G. Lelystad virus and the porcine epidemic abortion and respiratory syndrome. Vet Res 1993;24:117–24
  • Cavenagh D. Nidovirales: a new order comprising Coronaviridae and Arteriviridae. Arch Virol 1997;142:629–33
  • Thiel HJ, Meyers G, Stark R, Tautz N, Rumenapf T, Unger G, Conzelmann KK., Molecular characterization of positive-strand RNA viruses: pestiviruses and the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). Arch Virol Suppl. 1993;7:41-52
  • Nelsen C, Murtaugh M, Faaberg K. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus comparison: divergent evolution on two continents. J Virol 1999;73:270–80
  • Kapur V, Elam MR, Pawlovich TM, Murtaugh MP. Genetic variation in porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus isolates in the midwestern United States. J Gen Virol. 1996 Jun;77 ( Pt 6):1271-6
  • Meng XJ, Paul PS, Halbur PG, Morozov I.Sequence comparison of open reading frames 2 to 5 of low and high virulence United States isolates of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. J Gen Virol. 1995 Dec;76 ( Pt 12):3181-8
  • Barboza, David. Chinese Pig Virus Causes Concern Around the Globe. The New York Times. August 15, 2007.
  • Meulenberg, J. J.; Hulst, M. M.; de Meijer, E. J.; Moonen, P. L.; den Besten, A.; de Kluyver, E. P.; Wensvoort, G., and Moormann, R. J. Lelystad virus, the causative agent of porcine epidemic abortion and respiratory syndrome (PEARS), is related to LDV and EAV. Virology. 1993 Jan; 192(1):62-72.
  • Lee, C. and Yoo, D. Cysteine residues of the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus small envelope protein are non-essential for virus infectivity. J Gen Virol. 2005 Nov; 86(11):3091-6.

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