National Reference Laboratory for African Swine Fever (ASF)
Institute of Diagnostic Virology
African Swine Fever (ASF) is one of the most important and complex diseases affecting pigs. Due to its socio-economic impact, the disease is notifiable to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). It is caused by a large DNA virus belonging to the family Asfarviridae, genus Asfivirus.
Vertebrate hosts are only pigs (domesticated and wild), but the transmission cycle can involve soft ticks of the genus Ornithodorus, in which the virus can replicate. Thus, African swine fever virus (ASFV) is the only known virus with a DNA genome that can be classified as arthropod-born virus (ARBO virus). The clinical picture of ASF is most variable. It can produce a wide range of syndromes varying from peracute death or haemorrhagic syndromes to chronic disease and more ore less unapparent carriers. The latter are of great epidemiological importance and may maintain the disease in the affected population.
ASF is mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa, but recently, ASF outbreaks occurred also in e.g. Georgia, Armenia, and Russia. Especially the still unresolved situation in Russia raises concerns and increases the risk of introduction.
Overview of services
The duties of the National Reference Laboratory for CSF are laid down in Council Directive 2002/60/EC. Among these are:
- provision of diagnostic reagents and reference materials to regional laboratories,
- control the quality of diagnostic reagents used,
- arrangement of periodical comparative tests,
- hold isolates of African swine fever virus from cases and outbreaks.
Overview of methods
- Virus isolation in cell culture, haemadsorption test
- Detection of viral genome using real-time PCR
- Antibody detection by means of ELISA
- Panel of reference samples
- Characterization of recent ASFV isolates in wild boar
- Studies on the pathogenesis of recent ASFV isolates
- Optimization of ASF diagnosis from sampling to laboratory tests
- German decree on the protection against Classical and African swine fever (Schweinepest-Verordnung)
- Act on notifiable diseases
- Council Directive 2002/60/EC
- ASF Diagnostic Manual (Commission Decision 2003/422/EC)