How to Demonstrate Freedom from African Swine Fever in Wild Boar : Estonia as an Example
Estonia has been combatting African swine fever (ASF) for six years now. Since October 2017, the disease has only been detected in the wild boar population, but trade restrictions had to remain in place due to international regulations. Yet, the epidemiological course of the disease has changed within the last few years. The prevalence of ASF virus (ASFV)-positive wild boar decreased steadily towards 0%. In February 2019, the last ASFV-positive wild boar was detected. Since then, positive wild boar samples have exclusively been positive for ASFV-specific antibodies, suggesting the possible absence of circulating ASFV in the Estonian wild boar population. However, as the role of seropositive animals is controversially discussed and the presence of antibody-carriers is regarded as an indication of virus circulation at EU and OIE level, Estonia remains under trade restrictions. To make the disease status of a country reliable for trading partners and to facilitate the process of declaration of disease freedom, we suggest to monitor the prevalence of seropositive wild boar in absence of ASFV-positive animals. The possibility to include ASF in the list of diseases, for which an official pathway for recognition of disease status is defined by the OIE should be evaluated.