The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved a $4.8 million grant to support a comprehensive national program for controlling porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, led by Kansas State University (KSU).

Raymond “Bob” Rowland, KSU professor and virologist, heads up the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) Coordinated Agricultural Project. As part of the project, KSU experts are collaborating with other universities, veterinarians, commodity groups, governmental agencies and pork producers to find answers to the devastating disease.

“Our first step was to lay out a comprehensive road map for the industry,” explains Rowland. “All anyone in the field has to do now is pick a destination and go there.”

The goal of the PRRS project is to effectively coordinate efforts aimed at dealing with the disease through research, education and Extension.

“By eliminating PRRS, we can have a significant impact on animal health and welfare and the economic bottom line of producers across the nation and the world,” Rowland says.

Research efforts will focus on development of new vaccines and how genetics impact treatment. Though much has been learned since PRRS became prevalent in the United States several years ago, Rowland says there is still quite a bit of basic research that needs to be done on the virus.Researchers participating in the project will take a broader look at the syndrome – trying to map out how the virus works, as well as the effects of the environment, for example.

“Overall, we need to gain a better understanding of the virus and disease processes,” he explains. “This project is designed to bring together the scientific resources needed to get the job done.”

Scientific findings will be turned into management strategies that producers can use in their operations.

USDA will fund the PRRS project at KSU at $1.2 million a year for the next four years. Other participants include the Ohio State University, the University of Minnesota and the National Pork Board.