Potential mechanical transmission of Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) by the stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) through regurgitation and defecation
Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a viral disorder of cattle caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) which can induce severe infections leading to high economic losses. Being of African origin, the first LSD outbreaks in Europe occurred in Greece and later in the Balkan region. Little is known about the mode of transmission, especially in relation to the potential role of arthropods vectors. The purpose of our study was to investigate the role of Stomoxys calcitrans in the transmission of LSDV and their presence at different farms in Switzerland. Laboratory-reared flies were exposed to LSDV spiked-blood and incubated under a realistic fluctuating temperature regime. Body parts, regurgitated blood, and faecal samples were analysed by qPCR for the presence of viral DNA and infectious virus at different time points post-feeding (p.f.). LSDV DNA was detected in heads, bodies, and regurgitated blood up to three days p.f. and up to two days p.f. in the faeces. Infectious virus was isolated from bodies and faeces up to two days and in the regurgitated blood up to 12 h p.f. There was no increase in viral load, consolidating the role of S. calcitrans as mechanical vectors for LSDV. Stomoxys flies were present at all eight farms investigated, including a farm located at 2128 m asl. The persistence of LSDV in S. calcitrans in combination with the long flight ranges of this abundant and widespread fly might have implications on LSD epidemiology and on implementing control measures during disease outbreaks.