Pathology of African Swine Fever in wild boar naturally infected with German virus variants : [Preprint]

In 2020, African swine fever (ASF) was first notified in German wild boar, reaching a case number of about 4200 to date. Upon experimental infection, pathology is well-documented, however, data on field infections are very scarce in domestic pigs and not available from wild boar, respectively. Although ASF viral genome is considered exceptionally stable, a total of five lineages with 10 distinct virus variants of genotype II have emerged in Eastern Germany. To investigate the pathology in naturally infected wild boar and to evaluate virus variants II, III and IV for their virulence, wild boar carcasses were obtained from three different outbreak areas. The cadavers underwent virological and pathomorphological investigation. Regardless of the virus variant all wild boar revealed characteristic lesions of highest severity indicative for ASF. However, wild boar infected with variant IV from Spree-Neiße (SN) district showed lower viral genome loads and a lower total viral antigen score, but simultaneously revealed more chronic lesions. Our findings indicate a protracted course of the disease at least after infection with variant IV, but need confirmation under standardized experimental conditions. There is a strong need to monitor differences in the virulence among variants to identify potential attenuation that might complicate diagnosis.



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