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In Uganda swine is a major protein source and is kept by ca 19 per cent of the rural population. Estimations say that about two million pigs are kept in Uganda. From the governmental side pig is recommended as being ideal for poorer people, but also for bigger production, due to the large litter sizes and that they reach slaughter weight fast.
Unfortunately, this also gives problems with infectious diseases of various kinds. One of the most feared diseases of pigs is African swine fever (ASF), which is caused by a virus, African Swine fever virus (ASFV). There are currently no vaccine or treatment for this disease. Occasionally there are big outbreaks and this leads to tremendous consequences for the farmer and is extremely painful for the animals.
The symptoms can vary a lot from sudden death to more subtle, and therefore it can be difficult to judge if pigs have the disease or not. One reason for this is that different genetic variants circulate of the virus that have different pathogenicity.
The natural reservoirs of the virus are different types of wild pigs, warthogs and bushpigs and a soft tick (Ornithodoros) and may via the latter be transferred to domestic pigs. The introduction is however often due to infected pigs or meat products. This is due both to economical reasons and knowledge gaps about the virus behind the disease. Lots of the virus epidemiology and life cycle is unknown that must be sorted out to be able to combat the viral disease in an effective way. The scope of this project, which is a part of a bigger project, is to study the virus in the tick vector using so called viral metagenomics. This is a combination of advanced molecular techniques and computer analysis (bioinformatics). This will give a more complete picture of the virus survival and spread in the vector.