CHICAGO — Building on a 10-year history as the International Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Symposium, the Pork Checkoff co-sponsored the 2013 North American PRRS Symposium.

The meeting drew 200 participants from across North America and beyond to share the latest research and insights into the syndrome. The disease costs the U.S. pork industry $664 million per year or $115 per sow, shows previous research by Iowa State University.

“The main goal of this conference is the exchange of knowledge between some of the world’s foremost authorities on PRRS so that key research can move forward as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Lisa Becton, the Pork Checkoff’s director of swine health and information. “The Pork Checkoff’s ultimate goal is to see how research can be applied at the farm level to help curb this devastating disease.”

The meeting focused on the latest discoveries related to PRRS and associated disease syndromes, including porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.

Speakers focused on PEDV, PRRS surveillance, development of a PRRS outbreak investigation, roles of PRRS virus proteins, PRRS virus antibodies and nutritional management of PRRS-infected herds.

The checkoff-funded nutritional research, presented by Thomas Burkey, University of Nebraska, focused on how PRRS affects pigs all the way to market weight.

The ongoing research showed a decrease in average daily gain and average daily feed intake early in the pig’s life from which the pigs were not able to recover through compensatory gain later in life.

Tissue accretion also was reduced 15 percent to 20 percent all the way to market weight. Burkey said continued research was needed to find how to specifically feed pigs that are PRRS-positive.