Livestock Presence Influences the Seroprevalence of Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus on Sympatric Wildlife in Kenya

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2021 Oct;21(10):809-816. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2021.0024. Epub 2021 Sep 24.


Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is an emerging tick-borne zoonotic viral disease with the potential of causing public health emergencies. However, less is known about the role of wildlife and livestock in spreading the virus. Therefore, we aimed to assess how the interactions between African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and cattle may influence the seroprevalence of CCHF across livestock-wildlife management systems in Kenya. The study included archived sera samples from buffalo and cattle from wildlife only habitats (Lake Nakuru National Park and Solio conservancy), open wildlife-livestock integrated habitats (Maasai Mara ecosystem and Meru National Park), and closed wildlife-livestock habitats (Ol Pejeta Conservancy) in Kenya. We analyzed 191 buffalo and 139 cattle sera using IDvet multispecies, double-antigen IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The seroprevalence toward Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) was significantly higher for buffalo compared to cattle (75.3% and 28.1%, respectively, p < 0.001). We obtained the highest seroprevalence among buffalo of 92.1% in closed wildlife only systems compared to 28.8% and 46.1% prevalence in closed-integrated and open-integrated systems, respectively. The regression coefficients were all negative for cattle compared to buffalo in both closed-integrated and open-integrated compared to wildlife only system. Our results show that CCHFV circulates among the diverse animal community in Kenya in spatially disconnected foci. The habitat overlap between cattle and buffalo makes cattle a "bridge species" or superspreader host for CCHFV and increases transmission risks to humans. The effect of animal management system on prevalence is depended on tick control on the cattle and not the animal per se. We conclude that buffalo, a host with a longer life span than livestock, is a reservoir and may serve as a sentinel population for longitudinal surveillance of CCHFV.

Keywords: African buffalo; Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever; emerging infectious diseases; outbreak; tick-borne diseases; wildlife.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Ecosystem
  • Hemorrhagic Fever Virus, Crimean-Congo*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Crimean* / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Crimean* / veterinary
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Livestock
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • Antibodies, Viral