The pathogenesis of African swine fever virus (ASFV) infection in Ornithodoros porcinus porcinus was examined in nymphal ticks infected with the ASFV isolate Chiredzi/83/1. At times postinfection (p.i.) ranging from 6 h to 290 days, ticks or dissected tick tissues were titrated for virus and examined ultrastructurally for evidence of virus replication. The ASFV infection rate in ticks was 100% in these experiments, and virus infection was not associated with a significant increase in tick mortality. Initial ASFV replication occurred in phagocytic digestive cells of the midgut epithelium. Subsequent infection and replication of ASFV in undifferentiated midgut cells was observed at 15 days p.i. Generalization of virus infection from midgut to other tick tissues required 2 to 3 weeks and most likely involved virus movement across the basal lamina of the midgut into the hemocoel. Secondary sites of virus replication included hemocytes (type I and II), connective tissue, coxal gland, salivary gland, and reproductive tissue. Virus replication was not observed in the nervous tissue of the synganglion, Malpighian tubules, and muscle. Persistent infection, characterized by active virus replication, was observed for all involved tick tissues. After 91 days p.i., viral titers in salivary gland and reproductive tissue were consistently the highest detected. Successful tick-to-pig transmission of ASFV at 48 days p.i. correlated with high viral titers in salivary and coxal gland tissue and their secretions. A similar pattern of virus infection and persistence in O. porcinus porcinus was observed for three additional ASFV tick isolates in their associated ticks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science