Persistent domestic circulation of African swine fever virus in Tanzania, 2015–2017

Authors: Clara M. YonaMerijn VanheeEdgar SimulunduMariam MakangeHans J. Nauwynck & Gerald Misinzo



African swine fever (ASF) is a highly fatal viral hemorrhagic disease of domestic pigs that threatens livelihoods and food security. In Africa, ASF virus (ASFV) circulates in sylvatic (transmission between warthogs and soft argasid ticks) and domestic (transmission between domestic pigs) cycles, with outbreaks resulting from ASFV spill-over from sylvatic cycle. A number of outbreaks were reported in different parts of Tanzania between 2015 and 2017. The present study investigated ASFV transmission patterns through viral DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. A total of 3120 tissue samples were collected from 2396 domestic pigs during outbreaks at different locations in Tanzania between 2015 and 2017. Partial sequencing of the B646L (p72) gene was conducted for diagnostic confirmation and molecular characterization of ASFV. Phylogenetic analysis to study the relatedness of current ASFV with those that caused previous outbreaks in Tanzania and representatives of all known 24 ASFV was performed using the Maximum Composite Likelihood model with 1000 bootstrap replications in MEGA 6.0.


ASFV was confirmed to cause disease in sampled domestic pigs. ASFV genotypes II, IX, and X were detected from reported outbreaks in 2015–2017. The current ASFV isolates were similar to those recently documented in the previous studies in Tanzania. The similarities of these isolates suggests for continuous circulation of ASFV with virus maintenance within the domestic pigs.


Genetic analysis confirmed the circulation of ASFV genotypes II, IX, and X by partial B646L (p72) gene sequencing. The similarities of current isolates to previously isolated Tanzanian isolates and pattern of disease spread suggest for continuous circulation of ASF with virus’ maintenance in the domestic pigs. Although certain viral genotypes seem to be geographically restricted into certain zones within Tanzania, genotype II seems to expand its geographical range northwards with the likelihood of spreading to other states of the East African Community. The spread of ASFV is due to breach of quarantine and transportation of infected pigs via major highways. Appropriate control measures including zoosanitary measures and quarantine enforcement are recommended to prevent ASF domestic circulation in Tanzania.

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