First Detection of Antibodies Against African Swine Fever Virus in Faeces Samples

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African swine fever (ASF) is a viral, highly lethal haemorrhagic disease of swine with no available vaccine or effective treatment. Introduction of ASF into a country triggers immediate restriction measures that cause significant economic losses and threatens spread to neighbouring countries. Wild boar populations have been recently assigned an essential role in the spread of African swine fever virus (ASFV) to European countries. Therefore, effective surveillance and monitoring of wild boar populations is required, but sampling wild boar is logistically challenging and expensive. This study assessed the feasibility of detecting antibodies against ASFV in faeces for later implementation in surveillance and control programmes. Two groups of pigs were experimentally infected with an attenuated ASFV isolate Ken05, and blood, oral fluid and faecal samples were tested for the presence of viral DNA using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to monitor infection progress. Faecal samples were analysed using two indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) based on semipurified viral protein (vp) 72 or purified recombinant vp30 expressed in mammalian cells. Faecal samples from 9 of 10 pigs with non-haemorrhagic diarrhoea tested positive for antibodies against ASFV using the two ELISA tests that showed a positive correlation. The serum sample results from the two indirect ELISAs were compared against results from the reference ELISA technique and the immunoperoxidase test. Our findings indicate the feasibility of faecal sampling for detecting anti-ASFV antibodies, which may provide a practical non-invasive alternative for sampling wild boar populations. In conclusion, the application of these ELISA tests to faecal field samples could be particularly useful to screen for the presence of ASF in field conditions.

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