Heiko Nathues,
Prof. Dr. med. vet.

Clinic for Swine, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Switzerland

KEYNOTE SESSION - Eradication of infectious diseases: the PRRS example

"How to define an eradication program?"
Thursday, 12th May 2022

Prof. Dr. med. vet. Heiko Nathues graduated from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany in 2004. He spent some month in a specialised pig & poultry practice in Northern Germany.
From late 2004 until 2011 he was employed at the Field Station for Epidemiology of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in Bakum, Germany, where he also obtained his Dr. med. vet. in 2007 and his PhD in 2011.
Awarded with a Marie-Curie Intra-European-Fellowship he joined the Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group of the Royal Veterinary College in London, from 2011 to 2013. He also obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Education.
In 2013 he finalized his habilitation and received the venia legendi for ‘Pig diseases and population medicine’ from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover. Since the same year, he is a professor at the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Bern, Switzerland, where he is heading the clinic for swine. His primary areas of interest are diagnosis, epidemiology and control of porcine virus- and mycoplasmal-diseases.
Prof. Nathues is a Diplomate of the European College of Porcine Health Management (ECPHM), certified as EBVS™ European Veterinary Specialist of Porcine Health Management and currently the President of the ECPHM. Since April 2017 he is representing the PHM college in the EBVS, and since April 2021 he is the Vice-President of the EBVS and a member of the Executive Committee.


In recent years, the eradication of infectious production diseases in pig farms has become more and more popular. This is partially based on good experiences that were made elsewhere and have been published in papers or presented in conferences. However, thorough understanding of the epidemiology of the infection in question is of utmost importance and is not the same in every individual case. An attempt to eradicate a disease from one herd might be successful, whereby the same protocol does not lead to success in another herd, region, or country. Before starting any eradication program, a spatial and socio-economic analysis should highlight the feasibility and the monetary benefit. A partial budget analysis supports an informed decision regarding a particular eradication concept that is most applicable to the individual herd. Noteworthy, an appropriate sampling strategy being necessary to continuously control the success of the eradication afterwards should be designed beforehand. Otherwise, farm owners might be upset about the cost of maintaining and controlling the new specific-pathogen-free status of their herd. Once the eradication has been achieved, only monitoring programs with high sensitivity will truly evidence the accomplishment and build up trust among business partners. Inadequate sampling schemes, convenience-driven sampling sites, and ‘low-budget-testing’ increase the risk of false negative results and extended periods to detect breakdowns, i.e. re-infection of the herd. Summarizing all mentioned necessities for a successful eradication of an infectious production diseases in a given pig herd, it becomes obvious that tailor-made programs are required on herd level and, in case this is favored, on regional and national level.