Merck launches new vaccine to fight PRRS in pig herds

Merck ($MRK) Animal Health announced it's launching a new vaccine that helps reduce reproductive disease in breeding-age pigs and respiratory disease in swine three to four weeks old.

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) costs the U.S. pork industry an estimated $664 million per year, according to research cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

Merck's porcine vaccine is called PRIME PAC PRRS+ and stabilized a herd's PRRS immunity while reducing the potential for the virus to circulate, the company said in a release.

"The vaccine helps mitigate the clinical signs, such as reproductive abnormalities in the breeding herd and high mortality rates in piglets, which take a substantial toll on the health of the herd," Karen Lehe, swine senior account manager at Merck, said in a statement.

Last week, the USDA gave conditional approval for use of Zoetis' ($ZTS) vaccine to combat the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDv, that has caused havoc in global swine herds, killing an estimated 8 million piglets in the U.S. alone since it was first reported more than a year ago.

- see the Merck release