Pathobiological analysis of African swine fever virus contact-exposed pigs and estimation of the basic reproduction number of the virus in Vietnam
African swine fever (ASF), caused by African swine fever virus (ASFV), is a fatal disease affecting wild and domestic pigs. Since China reported the first ASF outbreak in August 2018, ASFV has swept over the neighbouring Asian countries. However, studies involving experimental pig-to-pig ASFV transmission in Vietnam are lacking. The main objective of this experimental study was to demonstrate the pathobiological characteristics of ASFV contact-exposed pigs and estimate their basic reproduction number (R0) in Vietnam. Fifteen pigs were randomly divided into two groups: experimental (n = 10) and negative control (n = 5) groups. One pig in the experimental group was intramuscularly inoculated with ASFV strain from Vietnam in 2020 and housed with the uninoculated pigs during the study period (28 days).
The inoculated pig died 6 days post-inoculation, and the final survival rate was 90.0%. We started observing viremia and excretion of ASFV 10 days post-exposure in contact-exposed pigs. Unlike the surviving and negative control pigs, all necropsied pigs showed severe congestive splenomegaly and moderate-to-severe haemorrhagic lesions in the lymph nodes. The surviving pig presented with mild haemorrhagic lesions in the spleen and kidneys. We used Susceptible-Infectious-Removed models for estimating R0. The R0 values for exponential growth (EG) and maximum likelihood (ML) were calculated to be 2.916 and 4.015, respectively. In addition, the transmission rates (β) were estimated to be 0.729 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.379–1.765) for EG and 1.004 (95% CI: 0.283–2.450) for ML.
This study revealed pathobiological and epidemiological information in about pig-to-pig ASFV transmission. Our findings suggested that culling infected herds within a brief period of time may mitigate the spread of ASF outbreaks.