“The onset of cold weather is not only prime time for people to catch colds, it is also when the likelihood of livestock, such as pigs, catching diseases also increases,” points out Mark Whitney, swine specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension.

The chief culprit is porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), which eats away profits and humbles all who try to control it and prevent it. In the United States alone, it costs pork producers more than $1.5 million a day.

A key to remember is that the disease is very mobile, and is especially threatening during the cold weather season, affecting farming operations that are either positive or negative to the disease.

In this cold season, remember this about the disease:

  • PRRSV likes it cold and humid;
  • PRRSV survives well on equipment that is still wet and hasn’t been cleaned and dried; and
  • PRRSV is a social disease, meaning it likes to move around. Remember that contaminated aerosols are an important source of virus, but transport equipment and introduction of contaminated materials are also very important sources.

Whitney’s top 10 list to prevent PRRS:

  1. Clean, disinfect, dry and inspect all pig transport equipment prior to entering your farm.
  2. Keep load-in and load-out areas clean and dry after each pig movement.
  3. Ensure that all replacement animals are quarantined and tested prior to mixing them with your animals.
  4. Keep doors locked when not in use and exclude unnecessary visitors.
  5. Seal gaps and leaks in doors, cool cells and windows to decrease rodent entry.
  6. Disinfect all materials entering your farm.
  7. Require all personnel either shower or changes clothes and shoes prior to entering the farm.
  8. Keep anteroom (lobby) of the farm and shower area clean and dry.
  9. Maintain a barrier between the “clean” and “dirty” sides of the farm.
  10. Dispose of dead pigs promptly and clean equipment after disposal.

Realize it can be difficult to have a designated space (drying bay) to store trailers after washing in cold weather. Outdoor trailers can freeze, and this neutralizes disinfectant efficacy, Whitney says.

By mixing disinfectant with a solution of 10% propylene (glycol-to-water mix) of windshield washing fluid, disinfectants will work longer in freezing weather.

And remember to never let down your guard against PRRSV – it is a sneaky virus!