Foot-and-mouth disease in feral swine: susceptibility and transmission.
Experimental studies of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in feral swine are limited, and data for clinical manifestations and disease transmissibility are lacking. In this report, feral and domestic swine were experimentally infected with FMDV (A24-Cruzeiro), and susceptibility and virus transmission were studied. Feral swine were proved to be highly susceptible to A-24 Cruzeiro FMD virus by intradermal inoculation and by contact with infected domestic and feral swine. Typical clinical signs in feral swine included transient fever, lameness and vesicular lesions in the coronary bands, heel bulbs, tip of the tongue and snout. Domestic swine exhibited clinical signs of the disease within 24 h after contact with feral swine, whereas feral swine did not show clinical signs of FMD until 48 h after contact with infected domestic and feral swine. Clinical scores of feral and domestic swine were comparable. However, feral swine exhibited a higher tolerance for the disease, and their thicker, darker skin made vesicular lesions difficult to detect. Virus titration of oral swabs showed that both feral and domestic swine shed similar amounts of virus, with levels peaking between 2 to 4 dpi/dpc (days post-inoculation/days post-contact). FMDV RNA was intermittently detectable in the oral swabs by real-time RT-PCR of both feral and domestic swine between 1 and 8 dpi/dpc and in some instances until 14 dpi/12 dpc. Both feral and domestic swine seroconverted 6-8 dpi/dpc as measured by 3ABC antibody ELISA and VIAA assays. FMDV RNA levels in animal room air filters were similar in feral and domestic swine animal rooms, and were last detected at 22 dpi, while none were detectable at 28 or 35 dpi. The FMDV RNA persisted in domestic and feral swine tonsils up to 33-36 dpi/dpc, whereas virus isolation was negative. Results from this study will help understand the role feral swine may play in sustaining an FMD outbreak, and may be utilized in guiding surveillance, epidemiologic and economic models.