Research Communication

Updated distribution and host records for the argasid tick Ornithodoros (Pavlovskyella) zumpti: A potential vector of African swine fever virus in South Africa

Anthony F. Craig, Livio Heath, Jan E. Crafford, Juergen A. Richt, Robert Swanepoel
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 88, No 1 | a1960 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v88i1.1960 | © 2021 Anthony F. Craig, Livio Heath, Jan E. Crafford, Juergen A. Richt, Robert Swanepoel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 July 2021 | Published: 09 December 2021

About the author(s)

Anthony F. Craig, Vectors and Vector-borne Diseases Research Programme, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Livio Heath, Agricultural Research Council-Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Transboundary Animal Diseases Laboratory, Onderstepoort, South Africa
Jan E. Crafford, Vectors and Vector-borne Diseases Research Programme, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Juergen A. Richt, Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD), College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, United States of America
Robert Swanepoel, Vectors and Vector-borne Diseases Research Programme, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

African swine fever virus (ASFV) causes a lethal and contagious disease of domestic pigs. In South Africa, the virus historically circulated in warthogs and ornithodorid ticks that were only found in warthog burrows in the north of the country. Regulations implemented in 1935 to prevent transfer of infected animals or products to the south initially proved effective but from 2016 there have been outbreaks of disease in the south that cannot be traced to transfer of infection from the north. From 1963 there were widespread translocations of warthogs to the south, initially from a source considered to be free of ornithodorid ticks. We undertook to determine whether sylvatic circulation of ASFV occurs in the south, including identification of potential new vectors, through testing extralimital warthogs for antibody and ticks for virus. Results of testing warthogs for antibody and other species of ticks for virus will be presented separately. Here we report finding Ornithodoros (Pavlovskyella) zumpti ticks in warthog burrows for the first time. This occurred in the Eastern Cape Province (ECP) in 2019. Since African swine fever was recognised in the ECP for the first time in 2020 and outbreaks of the disease in domestic pigs continue to occur there, priority should be given to determining the distribution range and vector potential of O. (P.) zumpti for ASFV.

Keywords

African swine fever virus; sylvatic circulation; arbovirus; South Africa; extralimital warthogs

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