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K-State Today

January 11, 2016



Veterinary professor hosts international symposium in Chicago on swine respiratory syndrome

By Joe Montgomery

A leading expert on swine disease in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University recently hosted an international symposium in Chicago. Bob Rowland, a virologist and professor of diagnostic medicine, was the executive director for the North American PRRS Symposium, Dec. 5-6, at the InterContinental Hotel.

PRRS stands for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, which has cost the U.S. pork industry more than $10 billion since it first appeared in the late 1980s.

The symposium was planned in conjunction with the annual Conference of Research Workers in Animal Disease, which is regularly conducted in Chicago. Becky Eaves, project manager in the department of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, was the proceedings editor and staff member for the symposium. She was joined by Francine Rowland, a volunteer, and Megan Kilgore and Shari Bennett, both from the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association in Topeka.

The purpose of the meeting was to present the latest scientific information on porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus as well as emerging and foreign animal diseases of swine. An important focus was on networking and career development for future scientists, clinicians and diagnosticians.

The meeting attracted top-notch speakers from universities, industry partners and veterinarians from around the globe. Also included were 88 research posters presented on disease transmission, detection, pathogenesis, diagnostics and other disease topics. Travel fellowships were awarded to 25 graduate students and postdocs.

This year's symposium had 267 attendees from 15 different countries. Even though porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus remained the primary focus of the meeting, collaborations with USDA NC-229 and Conference of Research Workers in Animal Disease resulted in the expansion of the program to emerging and foreign animal diseases, including porcine epidemic diarrhea, porcine circovirus-associated disease, African swine fever and classical swine fever. An important development was the announcement of the successful use of genome-edited pigs to prevent porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus infection. This work was performed by scientists at K-State and the University of Missouri.

In addition to the K-State staff organizing the meeting, major talks were delivered by College of Veterinary Medicine faculty. Lindsey Holmstrom, research assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, gave a presentation on "Enhanced Passive Surveillance System: Technology Supporting the Swine Industry for Early Disease Detection," and Ben Hause, clinical assistant professor at the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, presented "Metagenomic Sequencing for Virus Discovery and Characterization."

Major support for the meeting came from the College of Veterinary Medicine, National Pork Board, the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association and several companies.