Predicting spread and effective control measures for African swine fever - should we blame the boars?

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Abstract

An ongoing, continually spreading, outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), following its identification in Georgia in 2007, has resulted in 17 European and 12 Asian countries reporting cases by April 2020, with cases occurring in both wild boar and domestic pigs. Curtailing further spread of ASF requires understanding of the transmission pathways of the disease. ASF is self-sustaining in the wild boar population and they have been implicated as one of the main drivers of transmission within Europe. We developed a spatially-explicit model to estimate the risk of infection with ASF in wild boar and pigs due to natural movement of wild boar that is applicable across the whole of Europe. We demonstrate the model by using it to predict the probability that early cases of ASF in Poland were caused by wild boar dispersion. The risk of infection in 2015 is computed due to wild boar cases in Poland in 2014, compared against reported cases in 2015 and then the procedure is repeated for 2015-2016. We find that long- and medium-distance spread of ASF (i.e. >30km) is unlikely to have occurred due to wild boar dispersal, due in part to the generally short distances wild boar will travel (<20km on average). We also predict the relative success of different control strategies in 2015, if they were implemented in 2014. Results suggest that hunting of wild boar reduces the number of new cases, but a larger region is at risk of ASF compared to no control measure. Alternatively, introducing wild boar-proof fencing reduces the size of the region at risk in 2015, but not the total number of cases. Overall, our model suggests wild boar movement is only responsible for local transmission of disease, thus other pathways are more dominant in medium and long distance spread of the disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • African swine fever
  • wild boars
  • disease pathways

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