Threat to the French Swine Industry of African Swine Fever: Surveillance, Spread, and Control Perspectives

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African swine fever (ASF) has one of the highest case-fatality rates among pig diseases. Europe was considered ASF-free for about two decades until 2007, when the virus was introduced into Georgia. Since then, it has been identified throughout Eastern Europe, and reached Belgium in late 2018, increasing the risk of ASF being introduced into neighboring countries—namely Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and France. French authorities have therefore reinforced surveillance measures to improve the probability of detecting ASF rapidly if it emerges in France. Predictive modeling may help to anticipate the extent of virus spread and evaluate the efficiency of these surveillance measures. A previously published and well-documented model that simulates ASF virus spread was therefore tailored to realistically represent the French situation in terms of the geographic distribution of swine production sites and the commercial trade between them on the one hand, and the implementation of surveillance protocols on the other. The outcomes confirmed the moderate spread of ASF through the swine trade network, a situation that had been previously highlighted for the case of Denmark. However, the diversity of the French pig production landscape has revealed a huge potential for the geographic dispersal of the virus, especially should the index case occur in a low-density area, with a median source-to-case distance reaching 300 km. Free-range herds, which are more likely to have interactions with wild boars, were also identified as potential entrance gate for the virus. Transmissions from conventional herds were quasi-exclusively due to swine movement on the commercial network, representing 99% of transmission events. In contrast, 81% of transmission events occurred in the neighborhood of the index herd when the virus was introduced in free-range herds. The current surveillance measures were found relatively efficient for detecting the virus in large herds, leading to detection rates of 94%. However, infections on smaller production sites—which often have free-range herds—were more difficult to detect and would require screening protocols specifically targeting these smaller herds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number248
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • ASF, epidemiology, modeling, notifiable disease, pig

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