Faecal Escherichia coli as biological indicator of spatial interaction between domestic pigs and wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Corsica.
On the Mediterranean island of Corsica, cohabitation between sympatric domestic pigs and Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) is common and widespread and can facilitate the maintenance and dissemination of several pathogens detrimental for the pig industry or human health. In this study, we monitored a population of free-ranging domestic pigs reared in extensive conditions within a 800-ha property located in Central Corsica which was frequently visited by a sympatric population of wild boar between 2013 and 2015. We used GPS collars to assess evidence of a spatially shared environment. Subsequently, we analysed by PFGE of XbaI-restricted DNA if those populations shared faecal Escherichia coli clones that would indicate contact and compared these results with those collected in a distant (separated by at least 50 km) population of wild boar used as control. Results showed that one of eight wild boars sampled in the study area shed E. coli XbaI clones identical to clones isolated from domestic pig sounders from the farm, while wild boar populations sampled in distant parts of the study area shared no identical clone with the domestic pigs monitored. Interestingly, within the sampled pigs, two identical clones were found in 2013 and in 2015, indicating a long-time persisting colonization type. Although the method of isolation of E. coli and PFGE typing of the isolates requires intensive laboratory work, it is applicable under field conditions to monitor potential infectious contacts. It also provides evidence of exchange of microorganisms between sympatric domestic pigs and wild boar populations.