István Szabó, DVM, PhD

National PRRS Eradication Comitte of Hungary
Hungarian Association for Porcine Health Management
University of Szeged Faculty of Agriculture Hódmezővásárhely
Budapest, Hungary

KEYNOTE SESSION - Eradication of infectious diseases: the PRRS example

"The experience of the National PRRS eradication program in Hungary"
Thursday, 12th May 2022

István Szabó DVM, PhD graduated as a veterinarian in 1976, and pstgratueted as Specialist in Veterinary Laboratory (bacteriology and serology) from the University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest. Fifteen years experience in everyday livestock veterinary practice (including swine, cattle and geese). During this period led a farm owned laboratory making bacteriological, virological, food hygiene, feed content and radioimmunoassay test for monitoring the animal health status, and productivity of farm animals. 7 years as a lecturer at the College of Animal Husbandry at Hódmezővásárhely (Hungary). 20 years experience with animal health product industry, working as country manager (in Hungary and Russia) and technical director of Northern and Central European Region of Pfizer Animal Health. 16 year experience in execution and manage of animal disease eradication program (Aujeszky disease, PRRS) at country level. Currently is member of the National PRRS Eradication Comitte of Hungary, founding member of the Hungarian Association for Porcine Health Management.


Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is an infectious disease with worldwide distribution leading currently to the highest economic losses in pig production, some of them are considered more significant than damages caused by ASP. In the EU Member States, the prevalence of PRRS infections is high.
Therefore, in Hungary -for the first time among the EU Member States-, a National PRRS Eradication Programme was introduced in order to reach a more efficient, economic and competitive international market position. The veterinary authorities carried out the implementation of the programme with the consent and continuous support and monitoring by the organizations of pig industry and scientific committee. The EU also approved the program, but the legal obligations placed a burden on Hungarian producers in addition to complying with EU competition rules.
The PRRS eradication programme in Hungary is based on the territorial principle, and it is obligatory for each swine farm.
In Hungary large fattening farms operate as all-in/all-out or continuous flow systems. The large-scale breeding herds are predominantly farrow-to-finish types, despite the fact that more and more multi-site farms have already been established in recent years. Each PRRS infected large-scale farm had to have a unit-adapted eradication plan against the disease, including external-and internal biosecurity processes, vaccination etc. PRRS eradication was carried out mainly by the depopulation-repopulation method. Some farms used the test and removal method for eradication.
During the implementation of the program, we developed similarity network analysis of thousands of PRRSV ORF5 and ORF7 sequences to monitor the spread of the disease.
To reach the goal of PRRS eradication it was crucial to render each fattening unit free of this disease, since fattening units play a significant role in spreading the virus all over the country. As the eradication progressed over the years, the introducing of infected fattening pigs was restricted. Because of these measures, by the end of 2018, Hungarian large-scale fattening farms became free of PRRS.
Although its significance has decreased in recent decades, 20% of the Hungarian pig population is still kept on small-scale (backyard) farms (< 100 animals). As a result of the programme, PRRS-free status of the small-scale herds was achieved by the end of 2015, and this status was maintained in 2016–2021.
By 31 December 2021, all breeding pigs of large scale-farms in Hungary had become free from PRRS wild virus. By 31 March 2022, the total pig population of the country, including all fatteners, will reach this status.