City of San Fernando - More than 200 swine in San Simon town were found dead recently due to Porcine Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS) virus.

The Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) said the rapid spread of PRRS among hogs and piglets in Apalit, Mexico, San Luis, Bacolor and in the City of San Fernando has reached an alarming proportion.

Mayor Rodrigo "Digos" Canlas said he accompanied the PVO officers in giving vaccines to afflicted pigs in some of the big and backyard piggeries in San Simon to avoid the mortality increase.

Augusto Baluyut, provincial veterinarian, said the PRRS first erupted in San Simon and it is continuously spreading in more towns in the province.

Baluyut recalled that two years ago, over 40 percent of the piggeries in the towns of Porac, Lubao, Santa Rita, Guagua were severely affected by PRRS, which caused financial setbacks to the owners of backyard farming.

This happened, Baluyut added, due to the lack of vaccine stockpile, the only veterinary medicine that can fight the spread of PRRS.

The PVO veterinarian assured the public that PRRS is not transmissible from pig to human.

At present, the PVO has recorded more than 4,000 hogs that have already been vaccinated using the 10,000 vaccines given by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

PRRS is caused by a virus that was first isolated and classified as an arterivirus as recently as 1991. The disease syndrome had first been recognized in the USA in the mid 1980s and was called Mystery swine disease or "blue ear disease".

The virus is spread by nasal secretions, saliva, feces and urine; and field studies suggest it can be airborne for up to 3 kilometers (2 miles). A carrier state exists in the pig that can last for 2 to 3 months. In some individuals, it is thought that it may last longer although the pigs may not be shedding virus. Artificial insemination can be a potential method of spread if semen is used when the virus is present in the blood (viraemia) and particularly during the first three- to four week period following the breakdown of an AI stud. Outside this period, field evidence indicates the risk of spread in semen is very low from previously-infected groups of boars.

Adult animals excrete virus for much shorter periods (14 days), compared with growing pigs which can excrete for 1 to 2 months. PRRS may virus infect fetuses from midpregnancy onwards, and is excreted in saliva, colostrum and milk.