Landscape connectivity for predicting the spread of ASF in the European wild boar population

Sci Rep. 2024 Feb 10;14(1):3414. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-53869-5.

Abstract

African swine fever (ASF) is an infectious and highly fatal disease affecting wild and domestic swine, which is unstoppably spreading worldwide. In Europe, wild boars are one of the main drivers of spread, transmission, and maintenance of the disease. Landscape connectivity studies are the main discipline to analyze wild-species dispersal networks, and it can be an essential tool to predict dispersal-wild boar movement routes and probabilities and therefore the associated potential ASF spread through the suitable habitat. We aimed to integrate wild boar habitat connectivity predictions with their occurrence, population abundance, and ASF notifications to calculate the impact (i.e., the capacity of a landscape feature to favor ASF spread) and the risk (i.e., the likelihood of a habitat patch becoming infected) of wild boar infection across Europe. Furthermore, we tested the accuracy of the risk of infection by comparing the results with the temporal distribution of ASF cases. Our findings identified the areas with the highest impact and risk factors within Europe's central and Eastern regions where ASF is currently distributed. Additionally, the impact factor was 31 times higher on habitat patches that were infected vs non-infected, proving the utility of the proposed approach and the key role of wild boar movements in ASF-spread. All data and resulting maps are openly accessible and usable.

Keywords: African swine fever; Animal movement; Disease spread; Early detection; International-corridors; Landscape connectivity; Probability of connectivity; Surveillance-program; Sus scrofa; Vaccination programs; Wild boar.

MeSH terms

  • African Swine Fever Virus*
  • African Swine Fever* / epidemiology
  • Animals
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sus scrofa
  • Swine