Superficial Inguinal Lymph Nodes for Screening Dead Pigs for African Swine Fever
African swine fever (ASF) has spread across the globe and has reached closer to North America since being reported in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. As a result, surveillance measures have been heightened and the utility of alternative samples for herd-level monitoring and dead pig sampling have been investigated. Passive surveillance based on the investigation of dead pigs, both domestic and wild, plays a pivotal role in the early detection of an ASF incursion. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)-recommended samples for dead pigs are spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow, lung, tonsil and kidney. However, obtaining these samples requires opening up the carcasses, which is time-consuming, requires skilled labour and often leads to contamination of the premises. As a result, we investigated the suitability of superficial inguinal lymph nodes (SILNs) for surveillance of dead animals. SILNs can be collected in minutes with no to minimum environmental contamination. Here, we demonstrate that the ASF virus (ASFV) genome copy numbers in SILNs highly correlate with those in the spleen and, by sampling SILN, we can detect all pigs that succumb to highly virulent and moderately virulent ASFV strains (100% sensitivity). ASFV was isolated from all positive SILN samples. Thus, sampling SILNs could be useful for routine surveillance of dead pigs on commercial and backyard farms, holding pens and dead on arrival at slaughter houses, as well as during massive die-offs of pigs due to unknown causes.