Due to possible presence and spread of contagious animal viruses via natural sausage casings the international trade in these food products is subject to veterinary and public health requirements. In order to manage these restrictions we determined the effect of casing preservation on four highly contagious viruses for livestock: foot-and-mouth-disease virus (FMDV), classical swine fever virus (CSFV), swine vesicular disease virus (SVDV) and African swine fever virus (ASFV). We used an in vitro 3D collagen matrix model in which cells, infected with the four different viruses were embedded in a bovine collagen type I gel matrix and treated with either saturated salt (NaCl) or phosphate supplemented saturated salt at four different temperatures (4, 12, 20 and 25 °C) during a period of 30 days. The results showed that all viruses were faster inactivated at higher temperatures, but that stability of the various viruses at 4 °C differed. Inactivation of FMDV in the 3D collagen matrix model showed a clear temperature and treatment effect on the reduction of FMDV titres. At 4 and 12 °C phosphate supplemented salt showed a very strong FMDV inactivation during the first hour of incubation. Salt (NaCl) only had a minor effect on FMDV inactivation. Phosphate supplemented salt treatment increased the effect temperature had on inactivation of CSFV. In contrast, the salt (NaCl) treatment only increased CSFV inactivation at the higher temperatures (20 °C and 25 °C). Also SVDV inactivation was increased by phosphate supplemented salt, but salt (NaCl) treatment only resulted in a significant decrease of SVDV titre at a few time points. The ASFV results showed that both salt (NaCl) and phosphate supplemented salt were capable to inactivate ASFV within 48 h. In contrast to the other viruses (FMDV, CSFV and SVDV), ASFV was the most stable virus even at higher temperatures. The results obtained in this in vitro model underline the efficacy of a combined treatment using phosphate supplemented salt and storage at 20 °C or higher for a period of 30 days. This treatment may therefore be useful in reducing the animal health risks posed by spread of contagious animal viruses by international trade of natural sausage casings.
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