Serological survey in wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Switzerland and other European countries: Sarcoptes scabiei may be more widely distributed than previously thought

Chloé Haas, Francesco C. Origgi, Sophie Rossi, Jorge R. López-Olvera, Luca Rossi, Raquel Castillo-Contreras, Anna Malmsten, Anne Marie Dalin, Riccardo Orusa, Serena Robetto, Luciano Pignata, Santiago Lavín, Marie Pierre Ryser-Degiorgis

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© 2018 The Author(s). Background: Sarcoptic mange has recently emerged in wild boar in Switzerland, raising the question of the origin of the infection. The main aim of this study was to assess the extent of exposure of the wild boar populations to Sarcoptes scabiei in Switzerland, prior to and after the detection of mange cases, to determine whether the mite has been recently introduced into the populations concerned. We performed a serological survey using a commercially available ELISA and 1056 archived blood samples of free-ranging wild boar from Switzerland. To facilitate the interpretation of the obtained data, we additionally estimated seroprevalence in wild boar populations of four other European countries (1060 samples), both from areas with confirmed clinical cases of mange and from areas without reported cases in wild boar. Lastly, we revised the evaluation of the commercial ELISA when used with wild boar sera. Results: Seropositive reactions were observed for samples from all five countries and from 15 of the 16 study areas. The obtained apparent seroprevalences ranged from 0.0% (0/82; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.0-4.4) to 17.4% (8/46; 95% CI: 7.8-31.4). Wild boar from study areas with known clinical cases and those ≤60 kg were four times more likely to be seropositive than wild boar from areas without reported cases and > 60 kg, respectively. Optical density values did not differ between the two types of study areas among seropositive samples but were significantly lower among seronegative samples from areas without than from areas with clinical cases. No difference was observed between the two sampling periods in Switzerland. The revised ELISA specificity was 96.8% (984/1017; 95% CI: 95.5-97.7) when wild boar from areas without history of mange were considered truly negative. Conclusions: Seropositivity to S. scabiei is more frequent and occurs over a larger geographic range than expected. Data suggest that the parasite is endemic within the wild boar populations of Switzerland and other European countries but that its presence is not necessarily associated with disease occurrence. Extrinsic factors which trigger disease emergence in infected populations remain to be investigated. The applied ELISA represents a promising tool for future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2018


  • Europe
  • Sarcoptes scabiei
  • Sarcoptic mange
  • Serology
  • Seroprevalence
  • Switzerland
  • Wild boar


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