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Nathues, C.; Perler, L.; Bruhn, S.; Suter, D.; Eichhorn, L.; Hofmann, M.; Nathues, H.; Baechlein, C.; Ritzmann, M.; Palzer, A.; Grossmann, K.; Schüpbach-Regula, G. and Thür, B. (2016): An Outbreak of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus in Switzerland Following Import of Boar Semen. In: Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, Vol. 63, No. 2, E251-E261

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An outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) occurred in November 2012 in Switzerland (CH), traditionally PRRSV-free. It was detected after a German boar stud informed a semen importer about the detection of PRRSV during routine monitoring. Tracing of semen deliveries revealed 26 Swiss sow herds that had used semen from this stud after its last negative routine monitoring and 62 further contact herds. All herds were put under movement restrictions and examined serologically and virologically. As a first measure, 59 sows from five herds that had previously been inseminated with suspicious semen were slaughtered and tested immediately. Investigations in the stud resulted in 8 positive boars with recent semen deliveries to CH (Seven with antibodies and virus, one with antibodies only). In one boar out of six tested, virus was detected in semen. Of the 59 slaughtered sows, five from three herds were virus-positive. In one herd, the virus had spread, and all pigs were slaughtered or non-marketable animals euthanized. In the remaining herds, no further infections were detected. After confirmatory testings in all herds 3 weeks after the first examination gave negative results, restrictions were lifted in January 2013, and Switzerland regained its PRRSV-free status. The events demonstrate that import of semen from non-PRRS-free countries - even from negative studs - poses a risk, because monitoring protocols in boar studs are often insufficient to timely detect an infection, and infections of sows/herds occur even with low numbers of semen doses. The outbreak was eradicated successfully mainly due to the high disease awareness of the importer and because immediate actions were taken before clinical or laboratory diagnosis of a single case in the country was made. To minimize the risk of an introduction of PRRSV in the future, stricter import guidelines for boar semen have been implemented.

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