Serological profile of foot-and-mouth disease in wildlife populations of West and Central Africa with special reference to Syncerus caffer subspecies

The role which West and Central African wildlife populations might play in the transmission dynamics of FMD is not known nor have studies been performed in order to assess the distribution and prevalence of FMD in wild animal species inhabiting those specific regions of Africa. This study reports the FMD serological profile extracted from samples (n=696) collected from wildlife of West and Central Africa between 1999 and 2003. An overall prevalence of FMDV NSP reactive sera of 31.0% (216/696) was estimated, where a significant difference in seropositivity (p=0.000) was reported for buffalo (64.8%) as opposed to other wild animal species tested (17.8%). Different levels of exposure to the FMDV resulted for each of the buffalo subspecies sampled (p = 0.031): 68.4%, 50.0% and 0% for Nile Buffalo, West African Buffalo and African Forest Buffalo, respectively. The characterisation of the FMDV serotypes tested for buffalo found presence of antibodies against all the six FMDV serotypes tested, although high estimates for type O and SAT 3 were reported for Central Africa. Different patterns of reaction to the six FMDV serotypes tested were recorded, from sera only positive for a single serotype to multiple reactivities. The results confirmed that FMDV circulates in wild ruminants populating both West and Central Africa rangelands and in particular in buffalo, also suggesting that multiple FMDV serotypes might be involved with type O, SAT 2 and SAT 1 being dominant. Differences in serotype and spill-over risk between wildlife and livestock likely reflect regional geography, historical circulation and differing trade and livestock systems.

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