U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service



Stephanie M. Porter https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6664-6451

Date of this Version



Brown, V.R.; Miller, R.S.; Bowden, C.F.; Smyser, T.J.; Ledesma, N.A.; Hartwig, A.; Gordy, P.; Anderson, A.M.; Porter, S.M.; Alexander, K.; et al. Disease Progression and Serological Assay Performance in Heritage Breed Pigs following Brucella suis Experimental Challenge as a Model for Naturally Infected Feral Swine. Pathogens 2023, 12, 638. https:// doi.org/10.3390/pathogens12050638




Invasive feral swine (Sus scrofa) are one of the most important wildlife species for disease surveillance in the United States, serving as a reservoir for various diseases of concern for the health of humans and domestic animals. Brucella suis, the causative agent of swine brucellosis, is one such pathogen carried and transmitted by feral swine. Serology assays are the preferred field diagnostic for B. suis infection, as whole blood can be readily collected and antibodies are highly stable. However, serological assays frequently have lower sensitivity and specificity, and few studies have validated serological assays for B. suis in feral swine. We conducted an experimental infection of Ossabaw Island Hogs (a breed re-domesticated from feral animals) as a disease-free proxy for feral swine to (1) improve understanding of bacterial dissemination and antibody response following B. suis infection and (2) evaluate potential changes in the performance of serological diagnostic assays over the course of infection. Animals were inoculated with B. suis and serially euthanized across a 16-week period, with samples collected at the time of euthanasia. The 8% card agglutination test performed best, whereas the fluorescence polarization assay demonstrated no capacity to differentiate true positive from true negative animals. Froma disease surveillance perspective, using the 8%card agglutination test in parallel with either the buffered acidified plate antigen test or the Brucella abortus/suis complement fixation test provided the best performance with the highest probability of a positive assay result. Application of these combinations of diagnostic assays for B. suis surveillance among feral swine would improve understanding of spillover risks at the national level.