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African swine fever (ASF) and classical swine fever (CSF) are among the most important viral diseases of domestic and wild pigs. Outbreaks of either disease are accompanied by tremendous socio-economic consequences that threaten the livelihood of small farmers and the profitable production in industrialized settings. Thus, there is an urgent need for state-of-the-art control measures including diagnostic tests for timely diagnosis and disease surveillance.
This habilitation thesis covers different aspects that are needed for rational strategy design, i.e. generation of background data on infection biology, design and evaluation of control tools in terms of vaccines, and the optimization of diagnostic systems.
The first point, generation of background data, was addressed in experimental studies with domestic pigs and European wild boar that targeted the pathogenesis of swine fevers in the broader sense. Based on these studies, it can be expected that an introduction of ASF or CSF into a free area or population would lead to observable mortality. Thus, fallen animals would be the best target for an early warning system. To optimize the compliance of hunters and game wardens, alternative sampling methods were investigated in combination with routine polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. It could be shown that dry blood swabs are suitable for molecular swine fever diagnosis. A second diagnostic challenge was the rapid genetic differentiation of C-strain vaccinated from CSF field virus infected wild boar in areas with oral immunization. Here, a recently developed differentiating multiplex reverse transcription PCR was employed under field conditions. It could be proven that this genetic DIVA (differentiation of infected from vaccinated animals) approach is suitable under field conditions.
The last part covered vaccination as control tool. Recent advances in CSF vaccine development allowed revisiting emergency vaccination strategies for both domestic pigs and European wild boar. The presented original contributions cover different parts of the assessment of marker vaccine strain “CP7_E2alf” on its way to licensing.
An additional contribution reports on a study that was undertaken to assess the impact of modern adjuvants on the efficacy of inactivated ASFV preparations. The outcome of the study clearly shows that modern adjuvants do not enhance the efficacy of ASFV vaccine preparations.
Taken together, the presented studies feed into the strategy design for ASF and CSF and will hopefully facilitate control.