Event Abstract

Investigating the impact of environmental factors on the African Swine Fever epidemic in Belgium

  • 1 Free University of Brussels, Belgium
  • 2 University of Liège, Belgium
  • 3 Service Public de Wallonie, Belgium

The African swine fever (ASF) is a devastating disease of domestic pigs and wild boars caused by a DNA arbovirus, African swine fever virus (ASFV). ASFV is originated from sub-Saharan African countries, but during the last ten years, the virus has left its endemic range to spread to eastern European countries and the Russian Federation. On September 2018, authorities in Belgium reported that ASF had been confirmed in two wild boars (1 found dead and 1 sanitary shot) in a southern area of the country, very close to the shared borders with France and Luxembourg. On April 2019, more than 770 positive cases had been reported in wild boar populations and the epidemic is currently not under control. One should note that no case has yet been reported in domestic pig farms in Belgium. We present the application of recently developed methods to quantify the local velocity of an invading epidemics. In addition, we developed and applied a novel analytical framework that uses occurrence data to analyse the impact of environmental factors on the dispersal velocity and pattern of the spread. In particular, we aim at assessing (i) the impact of forest coverage and installed fences on the dispersal velocity, (ii) the impact of installed fences and motorway segments acting as barriers to dispersal. Our new analytical procedure involved a null model based on a randomisation procedure allowing the estimation of statistical support for the impact of each environmental factor separately. The developed methodology has the potential to be quickly applied on similar outbreak data sets solely made of occurrence data, with key benefits for the epidemiological investigations of external spatial factors impacting pathogen dispersal across non-endemic area.


Project supported by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS, Belgium). The authors are grateful to the Public Service and civil protection of Wallonia for their help throughout the ASF crisis.


Dellicour S, Prunier JG, Piry S, Eloy M-C, Bertouille S, Licoppe A, Frantz AC, Flamand M-C (2019). Landscape genetic analyses of Cervus elaphus and Sus scrofa: comparative study and analytical developments. Heredity, in press. Dellicour S, Rose R, Pybus OG (2016). Explaining the geographic spread of emerging epidemics: a framework for comparing viral phylogenies and environmental landscape data. BMC Bioinformatics 17: 1-12. Linden A, Licoppe A, Volpe R, Paternostre J, Lesenfants C, Cassart D, Garigliany M, Tignon M, van den Berg T, Desmecht D, Cay AB (2019). Summer 2018: African swine fever virus hits north-western Europe. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases 66: 54-55. Garigliany M., Desmecht D., Tignon M., Cassart D., Lesenfants C., Paternostre J., Volpe R., Cay A.B., van den Berg T., Linden A (2019). Phylogeographic Analysis of African Swine Fever Virus, Western Europe, 2018. Emerging Infectious Disease journal 25: 184. Tisseuil C, Gryspeirt A, Lancelot R, Pioz M, Liebhold A, Gilbert M (2016). Evaluating methods to quantify spatial variation in the velocity of biological invasions. Ecography 39: 409-418.

Keywords: environmental factors, Dispersal velocity, African swine fever (ASF), wild boar, Belgium

Conference: GeoVet 2019. Novel spatio-temporal approaches in the era of Big Data, Davis, United States, 8 Oct - 10 Oct, 2019.

Presentation Type: Regular oral presentation

Topic: Special topic on African Swine Fever (ASF)

Citation: Dellicour S, Gilbert M, Desmecht D, Licoppe A and Linden A (2019). Investigating the impact of environmental factors on the African Swine Fever epidemic in Belgium. Front. Vet. Sci. Conference Abstract: GeoVet 2019. Novel spatio-temporal approaches in the era of Big Data. doi: 10.3389/conf.fvets.2019.05.00073

Copyright: The abstracts in this collection have not been subject to any Frontiers peer review or checks, and are not endorsed by Frontiers. They are made available through the Frontiers publishing platform as a service to conference organizers and presenters.

The copyright in the individual abstracts is owned by the author of each abstract or his/her employer unless otherwise stated.

Each abstract, as well as the collection of abstracts, are published under a Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 (attribution) licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) and may thus be reproduced, translated, adapted and be the subject of derivative works provided the authors and Frontiers are attributed.

For Frontiers’ terms and conditions please see https://www.frontiersin.org/legal/terms-and-conditions.

Received: 10 Jun 2019; Published Online: 27 Sep 2019.

* Correspondence: Prof. Marius Gilbert, Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Brussels, 1050, Belgium, marius.gilbert@gmail.com