Objective—To assess the role of noncommercial pigs in the epidemiology of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus.
Design—Seroepidemiologic study and survey study.
Animals—661 pigs from which blood samples were collected at slaughter and 32 pigs from which blood samples were collected longitudinally.
Procedures—Spatial databases of commercial farms and 4-H participation were evaluated by use of commercial geographic information systems software. Information on disease knowledge and management methods of 4-H participants was obtained by mail survey and personal interview. Serum samples for antibody testing by PRRS ELISA were obtained from pigs at slaughter or at county fairs and on farms.
Results—Participation in 4-H swine programs was geographically associated with commercial swine production in Minnesota, and 39% of 4-H participants reared pigs at locations with commercial pigs. High seroprevalence at fairs (49%; range, 29% to 76%) and seroconversion after fairs indicated that PRRS virus exposure was common in pigs shown by 4-H participants and that transmission could occur at fairs.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The small swine population shown by 4-H members (estimated 12,000 pigs) relative to the population of commercial swine in Minnesota (estimated 6.5 million pigs) suggested the former overall was likely of minor importance to PRRS virus epidemiology at present. However, the relative frailty of knowledge of biosecurity practices, evidence that PRRS virus exposure was frequent, common intentions to show pigs at multiple events, and often close interactions with commercial herds suggested that the 4-H community should be involved in regional efforts to control PRRS.