Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome

What to look for:

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) only affects pigs. Infected pigs may show signs of breathing and respiratory distress, anorexia, fever and depression. Some may have highly prominent blue ears. Infertility, abortion or birth of weak piglets can also be symptoms.

 What you can do

  • Do not move live animals, meat or meat products, untanned hides or skins, other animal products or soil out of the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, or from either zone to mainland Australia without a permit and an inspection ​by a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources biosecurity officer.
  • Report any signs of illness in pigs to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
Porcine syndrome warning icon

Live animals, meat and dairy products, untanned hides and skins, other animal products and soil need a permit to move south between zones and to mainland Australia.


Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is a debilitating viral disease that emerged in the late 1980s. It has become the most important disease in intensively reared pigs in Europe, North America and increasingly in Asia by causing reproductive failure in sows and respiratory illness in pigs of all ages. It can spread from pig to pig by direct contact with sick animals, contaminated objects or infected meat.


Some pigs infected with this virus will have highly prominent blue ears (in the past this illness has been called “blue ear disease”), but this is not always the case. Most pigs will show varying degrees of anorexia, fever, depression and respiratory distress. Symptoms of this disease also include infertility, abortion or birth of weak piglets.


PRRS is present in many parts of North America, Europe, South America and Asia. Regionally, countries such as Malaysia, China, Vietnam and the Philippines are known to have experienced outbreaks.


Australia’s commercial pig herds would suffer huge losses if this exotic disease was introduced. Eradication would be extremely difficult or impossible if it became established in feral pig populations.

Keep a Top Watch!

PRRS is most likely to enter Australia through importation of pigs already infected with the disease. Keep a watch out for planes or boats in your region that may be carrying animals or animal products. Keep a watch on wild pigs and if you see sick pigs or piglets or more deaths than usual, call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

For further information or advice contact NAQS.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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