September 15, 2008

 

 USDA renews funding for work on PRRS, avian influenza - September 15, 2008

 
posted September 1, 2008
 

The Department of Agriculture has renewed funding for the coordinated agricultural projects focusing on porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome and on avian influenza.

The USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service will devote $4.8 million over four years to the PRRS CAP and $5 million over three years to the AI CAP.

According to CSREES, PRRS affects about 60 percent of U.S. swine herds and costs the U.S. swine industry about $580 million annually.

"A new strain of highly pathogenic PRRS has been found in China and Vietnam and is implicated as the primary cause of porcine high-fever disease, resulting in the death of large numbers of swine," noted Gale Buchanan, USDA undersecretary for research, education, and economics. "Renewal of the PRRS project responds to the urgent need to make sure the right tools are available to keep this foreign strain from affecting the U.S. swine population."

The University of Minnesota led the first phase of the PRRS CAP, which started in 2004. The project brought together researchers, veterinarians, producers, and industry to study the PRRS virus and develop tools for controlling infection.

Kansas State University will lead the second phase of the CAP. The focus will be on prevention and control tools, knowledge to support scientists, application of existing and new technologies in regional disease-eradication efforts, and development of educational and outreach programs.

The coordinated agricultural project on avian influenza began in 2005, with the University of Maryland leading the first phase. The project created a multidisciplinary team of researchers and extension specialists from 17 states. The University of Maryland also will lead the second phase of the AI CAP.

The project has focused on areas such as epidemiology, basic research, diagnostics, vaccines, and education. Since 2005, AI CAP participants have:

  • assembled a continent-wide network to study the ecologic and biologic characteristics of avian influenza viruses from wild birds
  • integrated research and education into a program available to a range of poultry producers
  • found that quail can change and expand the host range of AI viruses and that quail respiratory and intestinal tracts have humanlike sialic acid receptors that could partially explain the emergence of AI strains with the capacity to infect humans
  • developed a comprehensive program to train producers and veterinarians on the depopulation and composting of flocks with avian influenza
  • developed a testing component for rapid diagnosis of AI in birds
  • developed promising vaccines for mass vaccination of birds

The PRRS and AI coordinated agricultural projects receive funding through the CSREES National Research Initiative. The initiative provides grants for research, education, and extension efforts to help address agricultural issues of national and regional importance.