African swine fever (ASF) is a severe haemorrhagic disease of domestic pigs caused by ASF virus (ASFV). ASFV is transmitted by soft ticks (Ornithodoros moubata complex group) and by direct transmission. In Africa, ASF is maintained in transmission cycles of asymptomatic infection involving wild suids, mainly warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus). ASF outbreaks have been reported in many parts of Tanzania; however, active surveillance has been limited to pig farms in a few geographical locations. There is an information gap on whether and where the sylvatic cycle may occur independently of domestic pigs. To explore the existence of a sylvatic cycle in Saadani National Park in Tanzania, blood and serum samples were collected from 19 warthogs selected using convenience sampling along vehicle‐accessible transects within the national park. The ticks were sampled from warthog burrows. Blood samples and ticks were subjected to ASFV molecular diagnosis (PCR) and genotyping, and warthog sera were subjected to serological (indirect ELISA) testing for ASFV antibody detection. All warthog blood samples were PCR‐negative, but 16/19 (84%) of the warthog sera were seropositive by ELISA confirming exposure of warthogs to ASFV. Of the ticks sampled, 20/111 (18%) were positive for ASFV by conventional PCR. Sequencing of the p72 virus gene fragments showed that ASF viruses detected in ticks belonged to genotype XV. The results confirm the existence of a sylvatic cycle of ASFV in Saadani National Park, Tanzania, that involves ticks and warthogs independent of domestic pigs. Our findings suggest that genotype XV previously reported in 2008 in Tanzania is likely to be widely distributed and involved in both wild and domestic infection cycles. Whole‐genome sequencing and analysis of the ASFV genotype XV circulating in Tanzania is recommended to determine the phylogeny of the viruses.
Peter, E., Machuka, E., Githae, D., Okoth, E., Cleaveland, S., Shirima, G., Kusiluka, L. and Pelle, R. 2020. Detection of African swine fever virus genotype XV in a sylvatic cycle in Saadani National Park, Tanzania. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases.