No evidence for long-term carrier status of pigs after African swine fever virus infection.
This study targeted the assessment of a potential African swine fever virus (ASFV) carrier state of 30 pigs in total which were allowed to recover from infection with ASFV "Netherlands'86" prior exposure to six healthy sentinel pigs for more than 2 months. Throughout the whole trial, blood and swab samples were subjected to routine virological and serological investigations. At the end of the trial, necropsy of all animals was performed and viral persistence and distribution were assessed. Upon infection, a wide range of clinical and pathomorphological signs were observed. After an initial acute phase in all experimentally inoculated pigs, 66.6% recovered completely and seroconverted. However, viral genome was detectable in blood samples for up to 91 days. Lethal outcomes were observed in 33.3% of the pigs with both acute and prolonged courses. No ASFV transmission occurred over the whole in-contact phase from survivors to sentinels. Similarly, infectious ASFV was not detected in any of the tissue samples from ASFV convalescent and in-contact pigs. These findings indicate that the suggested role of ASFV survivors is overestimated and has to be reconsidered thoroughly for future risk assessments.