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Why is African swine fever still present in Sardinia?

Transboundary and Emerging DiseasesNew research article published in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases journal.

African swine fever (ASF) is an infectious disease of swine that has been present in Sardinia since 1978. Soon after introduction of the disease, several control and eradication programmes were established with limited success. Some researchers attributed the persistence of the disease in central and eastern areas to certain socio-economic factors, the existence of some local and traditional farming practices (i.e., unregistered free-ranging pigs known as brado animals) and the high density of wild boar in the region.

In the past, scarcity of swine data in Sardinia complicated the evaluation and study of ASF on the island. More complete, accurate and reliable information on pig farms has become available as a result of the most recent eradication programmes. Here, we perform statistical modelling based on these data and the known distribution of domestic pig and wild boar to identify the main risk factors that have caused ASF persistence in Sardinia. Our results categorized, identified and quantified nine significant risk factors, six of which have not been previously described. The most significant factors were the number of medium-sized farms, the presence of brado animals and the combination of estimated wild boar density and mean altitude above sea level. Based on these factors, we identified regions in eastern and central Sardinia to be at greatest risk of ASF persistence; these regions are also where the disease has traditionally been endemic. Based on these risk factors, we propose specific control measures aimed at mitigating such risks and eradicating ASF from the island.

Jurado C., Fernández-Carrión E., Mur L., Rolesu S., Laddomada A., Sánchez-Vizcaíno JM.

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