, Volume 150, Issue 12, pp 2439-2452

Molecular epidemiology of African swine fever in East Africa

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African swine fever (ASF) a lethal, viral hemorrhagic disease of domestic pigs, first reported from East Africa in 1921, is still widespread in this region. In order to assess field heterogeneity at the regional level, nucleotide sequences corresponding to the C-terminal end of the p72 gene were determined for 77 ASF viruses of diverse temporal and species origin occurring in eight East African countries. The number of sites completely conserved across all East African sequences characterized in this study was 84.2% and 86.8% on nucleotide and amino acid level, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis of a homologous 404 bp region revealed the presence of thirteen East African genotypes, of which eight appear to be country specific. An East African, pig-associated, homogeneous virus lineage linked to outbreaks in Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi over a 23 year period was demonstrated. In addition, genotype I (ESACWA) viruses were identified in East African sylvatic hosts for the first time which is significant as this genotype was previously thought to be restricted to the West African region where it occurs only in domestic pigs. The presence of discrete epidemiological cycles in East Africa and recovery of multiple genotypes affirms the epidemiological complexity of ASF in this region.