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Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus Dissemination Across Pig Production Systems in the United States

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) remains widespread in the North American pig population. Despite improvements in virus characterization, it is unclear whether PRRSV infections are a product of viral circulation within production systems (local) or across production systems (external). Here, we examined the local and external dissemination dynamics of PRRSV and the processes facilitating its spread in three production systems. Overall, PRRSV genetic diversity has declined since 2018, while phylodynamic results support frequent external transmission. We found that PRRSV dissemination predominantly occurred mostly through transmission between farms of different production companies for several months, especially from November until May, a timeframe already established as PRRSV season. Although local PRRSV dissemination occurred mainly through regular pig flow (from sow to nursery and then to finisher farms), an important flux of PRRSV dissemination also occurred in the opposite direction, from finisher to sow and nursery farms, highlighting the importance of downstream farms as sources of the virus. Our results also showed that farms with pig densities of 500 to 1,000 pig/km2 and farms located at a range within 0.5 km and 0.7 km from major roads were more likely to be infected by PRRSV, whereas farms at an elevation of 41 to 61 meters and surrounded by denser vegetation were less likely to be infected, indicating their role as dissemination barriers. 

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