No evidence for african swine fever virus DNA in haematophagous arthropods collected at wild boar baiting sites in estonia

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly pathogenic viral disease affecting all Suidae, with Ornithodoros moubata complex soft ticks acting as the biological arthropod vectors of the causative agent, African swine fever virus (ASFV). While ASFV is also transmissible via direct contact, pig products and fomites, other arthropods may be involved in virus transmission and persistence. Therefore we checked various groups of blood‐feeding arthropods collected during summer 2017 in wild boar habitats on the Estonian Island of Saaremaa for the presence of ASFV. Saaremaa had the highest ASF infection prevalences in Estonia in 2017, with an incidence of 9% among hunted wild boar. In addition to ASFV, we tested for other selected pathogens. In total, 784 ticks, 6274 culicoid biting midges, 77 tabanids, and 757 mosquitoes were tested as individuals or pools. No ASFV‐DNA was found in any of them although about 20% of the tick samples tested positive for swine DNA. By contrast, tick‐borne encephalitis virus‐RNA was detected in one out of 37 tick pools (2.7%) and Borrelia burgdorferi s.l.‐DNA in 20 individual ticks and 17 tick pools (25.2% of all samples). No Schmallenberg virus was detected in the Culicoides specimens. In conclusion, we found no evidence for Ixodes ricinus ticks, Culicoides punctatus and Obsoletus complex biting midges, Aedes spp., Anopheles spp. and Culiseta annulata mosquitoes, and Haematopota pluvialis tabanids playing a role in ASFV transmission in the wild boar population in Estonia.



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