The risk of transmission of pathogens from free-ranging wild boars (Sus scrofa scrofa) to outdoor domestic pigs (S. scrofa domesticus) is of increasing concern in many European countries. We assess this risk, using Switzerland as an example. We estimated 1) the prevalence of important pathogens in wild boars and 2) the risk of interactions between wild boars and outdoor pigs. First, we tested 252 wild boars from selected areas between 2008 and 2010 for infection with Brucella spp. Bacterial prevalence was estimated to 28.8% (confidence interval [CI] 23.0–34.0) when using bacterial culture (B. suis Biovar 2) and real-time polymerase chain reaction. Antibody prevalence was 35.8% (CI 30.0–42.0), which was significantly higher than in previous studies in Switzerland. We also tested 233 wild boars for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). Antibody prevalence was 0.43% (CI 0.01–2.4) for EU-PRRSV and real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction results were negative. These findings suggest that B. suis is increasingly widespread in wild boars and PRRSV is currently not of concern. Second, we documented the spatial overlap between free-ranging wild boars and outdoor piggeries by mapping data on their respective occurrence. Wild boars are most widespread in the mountain range along the western and northern Swiss borders, while most piggeries are located in central lowlands. A risk of interaction is mainly expected at the junction between these two bioregions. This risk may increase if wild boars expand eastward and southward beyond anthropogenic barriers believed to limit their range. Therefore, we evaluated the potential of expansion of the wild boar population. Population trends suggest a continuous increase of wild boars for the past 15 yr. Surveillance of selected wildlife passages using cameras on highways and main roads indicates that these barriers are permeable (average of up to 13 wild boar crossings per 100 days). Thus an increase of wild boar range should be considered. There may be a risk of B. suis spillover from wild boars in Switzerland, which could increase in the future. Data on the occurrence of interactions between pigs and wild boars are needed to assess this risk.
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Vol. 47 • No. 4