Currently, African swine fever (ASF) is one of the biggest global economic challenges in Europe and Asia. Despite all the efforts done to understand the mechanism of spread, presence and maintenance of ASF in domestic pigs and wild boar, there are still many gaps in the knowledge on its epidemiology.
This study aims to describe spatial and temporal patterns of ASF spread in wild boar and domestic pigs in the country during the last three years. Methods of Spatio-temporal scanning statistics of Kulldorff (SatScan) and Mann-Kendell statistics (space-time cube) were used to identify potential clusters of outbreaks and the presence of hot spots (areas of active flare clusters), respectively. The results showed that ASF in the country has a local epidemic pattern of spread (11 explicit clusters in wild boar and 16 epizootic clusters were detected in the domestic pig population: 11 in the European part and 5 in the Asian part), and only six of them are overlapped suggesting that ASF epidemics in domestic pigs and wild boar are two separate processes. In the Nizhny Novgorod, Vladimir, Ivanovo, Novgorod, Pskov, Leningrad regions, the clusters identified are characterized as sporadic epidemics clusters, while in the Ulyanovsk region, Primorsky Territory, and the Jewish Autonomous Region the clusters are consistent. Considering the low biosecurity level of pig holdings in the far east and its close economic and cultural connections with China as well as other potential risk factors, it can be expected that the epidemic will be present in the region for a long time. The disease has spread in the country since 2007, and now it is reoccurring in some of the previously affected regions. Outbreaks in the domestic pig sector can be localized easily (no pattern detected), while the presence of the virus in wildlife (several consecutive hot spots detected) hampers its complete eradication. Although the disease has different patterns of spread over the country its driving forces remain the same (human-mediated spread and wild boar domestic-pigs mutual spillover). The results indicate that despite all efforts taken since 2007, the policy of eradication of the disease needs to be reviewed, especially measures in wildlife.
The article presents the results of a comparative study of the biological, molecular and genetic characteristics of African swine fever virus (ASFV) isolates, obtained from domestic pigs and wild boars in the Russian Federation and South Ossetia from 2016 to 2018. The studied isolates caused the death of pigs manifesting, as a rule, signs of an acute or subacute form of the disease when using various methods of infection including intramuscular, direct contact, intranasal and oral routes. The virus was hemadsorbing, belonging to serotype 8 and genotype II, and accumulated in the blood with a titer of 6.5 to 7.5 lg HAU50/cm3. The ASFV isolates circulating in the central region of Russia were found to have an insertion of 10 base pairs in the intergenic region I73R/I329L. However, the ASFV isolated in the Irkutsk region and South Ossetia, as well as Georgia 2007/1 (FR682468.1), lacked this insertion.
Three recombinant plasmid constructs, expressing chimeric proteins containing human ubiquitin fused to an ectodomain of one of the potentially protective proteins (p30, p54 and CD2v) of the attenuated MK-200 strain of African swine fever virus (ASFV), were created as potential inductors of specific antiviral cellular immunity. Three-time immunization of pigs with the mixture of these plasmids led to the formation of virus-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL), but did not induce production of virus-specific antibodies. After challenge with the homologous parental virulent ASFV strain M-78 at a dose of 103 HAD50, all five animals (four immunized pigs and one naïve) fell between the 4th and 7th days post infection. The obtained results demonstrated that induction of CTL did not protect pigs against challenge with the virulent ASFV. Balanced activation of CTL and antibody-mediated cellular mechanisms should be investigated.