Convenience Stores and PRRS

I receive a daily ‘newsgram’ from the Food Marketing Institute which is the grocery store industry group. I started to receive it so I could see what the retailers are thinking about as they present our pork products to the American consumer.

In this mornings email, there was an article on convenience stores that I found really interesting. In many rural communities, convenience stores are the social hub of the community, whether it be Caseys, Kum and Go, QuickTrip, QuickStar, Cenex, etc. All of us have stopped at these stores for small purchases and/or gasoline, etc.

A survey of convenience stores for the magazine CSP says 58% of consumers reported buying a nonalcohol beverage on their most recent stop. Fifty percent (50%) of shoppers think of convenience stores as places to buy beer with the average shopper purchasing beer 3 times per month. Other top products purchased during a convenience store stop included candy/gum (41%), gasoline (39%), lottery tickets (37%), salty snacks (36%) and tobacco products (34%). Total convenience store sales were $8.7 billion for the 52 week period ending November 27, 2011.

The reason I find this so interesting is the impact of convenience stores on people movements and possibly the transmission of PRRS. So far this winter, PRRS has been a major health challenge in the upper Midwest. Transmission of PRRS between production sites can be via air borne or fomites of some sort. When PRRS breaks in a production unit, producers and their veterinarians often do a lot of head scratching to try and identify the biosecurity break that may have allowed for the introduction of this devastating virus.

I’ve wondered for years the role of local convenience stores in disease transmission. Drive thru any rural community early in the morning and you’ll see lots of traffic at the local ‘C’ store as people get a cup of coffee, can of Mountain Dew and/or donut. At 3-5 pm, this is repeated as everyone again cycles thru to get their favorite beverage.

Think about how many dirty feet come thru the store on a given day, and how many potentially are tracking PRRS virus. After stopping at your local ‘C’ store, do you change shoes/boots before entering your swine facility, or do you rush in (it will only be a minute!) to check on something before going on to the next task. Based on Dr Scott Dee’s infamous ‘snowball from hell’ it seems logical to me that the local ‘C’ store should be treated as a potential source of PRRS virus. While we all stop at the stores for our favorite beverages and gasoline, we need to take the extra step when we return home of changing our foot ware before entering our pork production facilities.

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