African Swine Fever Laboratory Diagnosis : Lessons Learned from Recent Animal Trials
African swine fever virus (ASFV) causes a hemorrhagic disease in pigs with high socio-economic consequences. To lower the impact of disease incursions, early detection is crucial. In the context of experimental animal trials, we evaluated diagnostic workflows for a high sample throughput in active surveillance, alternative sample matrices for passive surveillance, and lateral flow devices (LFD) for rapid testing. We could demonstrate that EDTA blood is significantly better suited for early ASFV detection than serum. Tissues recommended by the respective diagnostic manuals were in general comparable in their performance, with spleen samples giving best results. Superficial lymph nodes, ear punches, and different blood swabs were also evaluated as potential alternatives. In summary, all matrices yielded positive results at the peak of clinical signs and could be fit for purpose in passive surveillance. However, weaknesses were discovered for some matrices when it comes to the early phase of infection or recovery. The antigen LFD showed variable results with best performance in the clinical phase. The antibody LFD was quite comparable with ELISA systems. Concluding, alternative approaches are feasible but have to be embedded in control strategies selecting test methods and sample materials following a “fit-for-purpose” approach.