Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Serological Survey on Bacterial and Viral Pathogens in Wild Boars Hunted in Tuscany


Wild boar (Sus scrofa) is one of the large mammals most spread worldwide, including Italy. This animal is highly adaptable, and its population has rapidly increased in many areas in Europe. Central Italy, as well as Tuscany region, is an area particularly suitable for wild boar. In order to verify the role of this animal species in the epidemiology of some important infectious diseases for livestock and humans, a seroepidemiological survey on Brucella spp., Leptospira spp., Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, Pseudorabies virus (PrV), and Hepatitis E virus (HEV) has been performed on 374 sera collected from wild boar during 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 hunting seasons. Overall, 2 out of 374 sera (0.53%) tested positive to Brucella spp., 33 out of 374 sera (8.82%) tested positive for Leptospira spp., while 79 out of 374 (21.12%) were positive for M. hyopneumoniae. Considering viral pathogens, serology indicated that 107 out of 374 (28.60%) samples scored positive for PrV, while 186 out of 374 (49.73%) for HEV. This investigation indicated that wild boar free ranging in the study area are potential hosts for different etiological agents. This animal could contribute to maintaining and/or disseminating some bacterial or viral pathogens to humans (especially hunters) and domestic animals, especially in free range farms.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Adler, B., de la Peña Moctezuma, A., 2010. Leptospira and leptospirosis. Vet. Microbiol. 140, 287–296.

  2. Adlhoch, C., Wolf, A., Meisel, H., Kaiser, M., Ellerbrok, H., Pauli, G., 2009. High HEV presence in four different wild boar populations in East and West Germany. Vet. Microbiol. 139, 270–278.

  3. Anheyer-Behmenburg, H.E., Szabo, K., Schotte, U., Binder, A., Klein, G., Johne, R., 2017. Hepatitis E virus in wild boars and spillover infection in red and roe deer, Germany, 2013-2015. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 23, 130–133.

  4. Arenas-Montes, A., García-Bocanegra, I., Paniagua, J., Franco, J.J., Miró, F., Fernández-Morente, M., Carbonero, A., Arenas, A., 2013. Blood sampling by puncture in the cavernous sinus from hunted wild boar. Eur. J. Wildl. Res. 59, 299–303.

  5. Barlozzari, G., Franco, A., Macrì, G., Lorenzetti, S., Maggiori, F., Dottarelli, S., Maurelli, M., Di Giannatale, E., Tittarelli, M., Battisti, A., Gamberale, F., 2015. First report of Brucella suis biovar 2 in a semi free-range pig farm, Italy. Vet. Ital. 51, 151–154.

  6. Batista Linhares, M., Belloy, L., Origgi, F.C., Lechner, I., Segner, H., Ryser-Degiorgis, M.-P., 2015. Investigating the role of free-ranging wild boar (Sus scrofa) in the re-emergence of enzootic pneumonia in domestic pig herds: a pathological, prevalence and risk-factor study. PLoS One 10, e0119060.

  7. Bertelloni, Fabrizio, Forzan, M., Turchi, B., Sagona, S., Mazzei, M., Felicioli, A., Fratini, F., Cerri, D., 2018. A serological survey on swine brucellosis using standard procedures, Dot Blot, and Western Blot in finisher pigs in Central-North Italy. Vet. Sci. 5, 86.

  8. Bertelloni, F., Turchi, B., Cerri, D., Pinzauti, P., Fratini, F., 2017. Leptospira spp. and Brucella ovis seroprevalence in sheep: preliminary results of one year surveillance program. J. Hell. Vet. Med. Soc. 68, 567–572.

  9. Bertelloni, F., Turchi, B., Vattiata, E., Viola, P., Pardini, S., Cerri, D., Fratini, F., 2018. Serological survey on Leptospira infection in slaughtered swine in North-Central Italy. Epidemiol. Infect. 1–6.

  10. Boadella, M., Gortázar, C., Vicente, J., Ruiz-Fons, F., 2012. Wild boar: an increasing concern for Aujeszky’s disease control in pigs? BMC Vet. Res. 8, 7.

  11. Boqvist, S., Bergström, K., Magnusson, U., 2012. Prevalence of antibody to six Leptospira servovars in swedish wild boars. J. Wildl. Dis. 48, 492–496.

  12. Caballero-Gómez, J., Jiménez-Ruiz, S., Lopez-Lopez, P., Vicente, J., Risalde, M.A., Cano-Terriza, D., Frias, M., Barasona, J.A., Rivero, A., García-Bocanegra, I., Rivero-Juarez, A., 2019. Emergent subtype of hepatitis E virus genotype 3 in wild boar in Spain. Transbound. Emerg. Dis. 1803–1808.

  13. Cano-Manuel, F.J., López-Olvera, J., Fandos, P., Soriguer, R.C., Pérez, J.M., Granados, J.E., 2014. Long-term monitoring of 10 selected pathogens in wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Sierra Nevada National Park, southern Spain. Vet. Microbiol. 174, 148–154.

  14. Carnevali, L., Pedrotti, L., Riga, F., Toso, S., 2009. Banca Dati Ungulati: Status, distribuzione, consistenza, gestione e prelievo venatorio delle popolazioni di Ungulati in Italia. Rapporto 2001-2005. Biol. e Conserv. della Fauna 117, 1–168.

  15. Caruso, C., Modesto, P., Bertolini, S., Peletto, S., Acutis, P.L., Dondo, A., Robetto, S., Mignone, W., Orusa, R., Ru, G., Masoero, L., 2015. Serological and virological survey of hepatitis E virus in wild boar populations in northwestern Italy: detection of HEV subtypes 3e and 3f. Arch. Virol. 160, 153–160.

  16. Caruso, C., Vitale, N., Prato, R., Radaelli, M.C., Zoppi, S., Possidente, R., Dondo, A., Chiavacci, L., Moreno Martin, A.M., Masoero, L., 2018. Pseudorabies virus in North-West Italian wild boar (Sus scrofa) populations: prevalence and risk factors to support a territorial risk-based surveillance. Vet. Ital. 54, 1006.

  17. Castillo-Contreras, R., Carvalho, J., Serrano, E., Mentaberre, G., Fernández-Aguilar, X., Colom, A., González-Crespo, C., Lavín, S., López-Olvera, J.R., 2018. Urban wild boars prefer fragmented areas with food resources near natural corridors. Sci. Total Environ. 615, 282–288.

  18. Caswell JL, Williams KJ (2016) Respiratory system. In: Jubb, Kennedy & Palmer’s pathology of domestic animals, Maxie MG (ed.), 6th edition, Vol 2, Elsevier: St.Lousis pp 465–591.

  19. Cerri, D., Ebani, V. V, Fratini, F., Pinzauti, P., Andreani, E., 2003. Epidemiology of leptospirosis: observations on serological data obtained by a "diagnostic laboratory for leptospirosis" from 1995 to 2001. New Microbiol. 26, 383–9.

  20. Chiari, M., Figarolli, B.M., Tagliabue, S., Alborali, G.L., Bertoletti, M., Papetti, A., D’Incau, M., Zanoni, M., Boniotti, M.B., 2016. Seroprevalence and risk factors of leptospirosis in wild boars (Sus scrofa) in northern Italy. Hystrix, Ital. J. Mammal. 27

  21. Cramer, S.D., Campbell, G.A., Njaa, B.L., Morgan, S.E., Smith, S.K., McLin, W.R., Brodersen, B.W., Wise, A.G., Scherba, G., Langohr, I.M., Maes, R.K., 2011. Pseudorabies virus infection in Oklahoma hunting dogs. J. Vet. Diagnostic Investig. 23, 915–23.

  22. De Massis, F., Di Provvido, A., Di Sabatino, D., Di Francesco, D., Zilli, K., Ancora, M., Tittarelli, M., 2012. Isolation of Brucella suis biovar 2 from a wild boar in the Abruzzo Region of Italy. Vet. Ital. 48, 397–404, 387–95.

  23. De Sabato, L., Amoroso, M.G., Ianiro, G., Esposito, C., De Grossi, L., Fusco, G., Barone, A., Martini, E., Ostanello, F., Di Bartolo, I., 2019. Detection of Hepatitis E Virus in Livers and Muscle Tissues of Wild Boars in Italy. Food Environ. Virol.

  24. De Sabato, L., Ostanello, F., De Grossi, L., Marcario, A., Franzetti, B., Monini, M., Di Bartolo, I., 2018. Molecular survey of HEV infection in wild boar population in Italy. Transbound. Emerg. Dis. 65, 1749–1756.

  25. Deutz, A., Fuchs, K., Schuller, W., Nowotny, N., Auer, H., Aspöck, H., Stünzner, D., Kerbl, U., Klement, C., Köfer, J., 2003. Seroepidemiological studies of zoonotic infections in hunters in southeastern Austria–prevalences, risk factors, and preventive methods. Berl. Munch. Tierarztl. Wochenschr. 116, 306–30611.

  26. Di Pasquale, S., De Santis, P., La Rosa, G., Di Domenico, K., Iaconelli, M., Micarelli, G., Martini, E., Bilei, S., De Medici, D., Suffredini, E., 2019. Quantification and genetic diversity of Hepatitis E virus in wild boar (Sus scrofa) hunted for domestic consumption in Central Italy. Food Microbiol. 82, 194–201.

  27. Díaz Aparicio, E., 2013. Epidemiology of brucellosis in domestic animals caused by Brucella melitensis, Brucella suis and Brucella abortus, Rev. sci. tech. Off. int. Epiz.

  28. Ebani, V. V., Cerri, D., Poli, A., Andreani, E., 2003. Prevalence of Leptospira and Brucella Antibodies in Wild Boars (Sus scrofa) in Tuscany, Italy. J. Wildl. Dis. 39, 718–722.

  29. Ebani VV, Bertelloni F, Pinzauti P, Cerri D (2012) Seroprevalence of Leptospira spp. and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu Lato in Italian horses. Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine 19:237-240

  30. EFSA, 2017. The European Union summary report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food‐borne outbreaks in 2016. EFSA J. 15.

  31. El-Tras, W.F., Bruce, M., Holt, H.R., Eltholth, M.M., Merien, F., 2018. Update on the status of leptospirosis in New Zealand. Acta Trop.

  32. Ellis WA (2015) Animal Leptospirosis. Springer, Berlin, pp. 99–137.

  33. Emerson, S.U., Purcell, R.H., 2003. Hepatitis E virus. Rev. Med. Virol. 13, 145–54.

  34. Fratini, F., Turchi, B., Ebani, V. V, Bertelloni, F., Galiero, A., Cerri, D., 2015. The presence of Leptospira in coypus (Myocastor coypus) and rats (Rattus norvegicus) living in a protected wetland in Tuscany (Italy). Veterinarski arhiv 85, 407–414.

  35. Fretin, D., Mori, M., Czaplicki, G., Quinet, C., Maquet, B., Godfroid, J., Saegerman, C., 2013. Unexpected Brucella suis biovar 2 Infection in a dairy cow, Belgium. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 19, 2053–4.

  36. Goarant, C., 2016. Leptospirosis: risk factors and management challenges in developing countries. Res. Rep. Trop. Med. 7, 49–62.

  37. Jemeršić, L., Prpić, J., Brnić, D., Keros, T., Pandak, N., Đaković Rode, O., 2019. Genetic diversity of hepatitis E virus (HEV) strains derived from humans, swine and wild boars in Croatia from 2010 to 2017. BMC Infect. Dis. 19.

  38. Khoury, M.K., Parker, I., Aswad, D.W., 2010. Acquisition of chemiluminescent signals from immunoblots with a digital single-lens reflex camera. Anal. Biochem. 397, 129–31.

  39. Kuhnert, P., Overesch, G., 2014. Molecular epidemiology of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae from outbreaks of enzootic pneumonia in domestic pig and the role of wild boar. Vet. Microbiol. 174, 261–266.

  40. Lee, G.Y., Poovorawan, K., Intharasongkroh, D., Sa-nguanmoo, P., Vongpunsawad, S., Chirathaworn, C., Poovorawan, Y., 2015. Hepatitis E virus infection: Epidemiology and treatment implications. World J. Virol. 4, 343.

  41. Lombardini, M., Meriggi, A., Fozzi, A., 2017. Factors influencing wild boar damage to agricultural crops in Sardinia (Italy). Curr. Zool. 63, 507–514.

  42. Maes, D., Sibila, M., Kuhnert, P., Segalés, J., Haesebrouck, F., Pieters, M., 2018. Update on Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infections in pigs: Knowledge gaps for improved disease control. Transbound. Emerg. Dis. 65, 110–124.

  43. Malmsten, A., Magnusson, U., Ruiz-Fons, F., González-Barrio, D., Dalin, A.-M., 2018. A serologic survey of pathognes in wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Sweden. J. Wildl. Dis. 54, 229–237.

  44. Martelli, F., Caprioli, A., Zengarini, M., Marata, A., Fiegna, C., Di Bartolo, I., Ruggeri, F.M., Delogu, M., Ostanello, F., 2008. Detection of Hepatitis E virus (HEV) in a demographic managed wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) population in Italy. Vet. Microbiol. 126, 74–81.

  45. Martinelli, N., Pavoni, E., Filogari, D., Ferrari, N., Chiari, M., Canelli, E., Lombardi, G., 2015. Hepatitis E virus in wild boar in the central northern part of Italy. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases. 62, 217–22.

  46. Massei, G., Kindberg, J., Licoppe, A., Gačić, D., Šprem, N., Kamler, J., Baubet, E., Hohmann, U., Monaco, A., Ozoliņš, J., Cellina, S., Podgórski, T., Fonseca, C., Markov, N., Pokorny, B., Rosell, C., Náhlik, A., 2015. Wild boar populations up, numbers of hunters down? A review of trends and implications for Europe. Pest Manag. Sci. 71, 492–500.

  47. Mazzei, M., Nardini, R., Verin, R., Forzan, M., Poli, A., Tolari, F., 2015. Serologic and molecular survey for hepatitis E virus in wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Central Italy. New microbes new Infect. 7, 41–7.

  48. Meng, X.J., Lindsay, D.S., Sriranganathan, N., 2009. Wild boars as sources for infectious diseases in livestock and humans. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B. Biol. Sci. 364, 2697–707.

  49. Merialdi, G., Dottori, M., Bonilauri, P., Luppi, A., Gozio, S., Pozzi, P., Spaggiari, B., Martelli, P., 2012. Survey of pleuritis and pulmonary lesions in pigs at abattoir with a focus on the extent of the condition and herd risk factors. Vet. J. 193, 234–239.

  50. Mettenleiter, T.C., 2000. Aujeszky’s disease (pseudorabies) virus: the virus and molecular pathogenesis - State of the art, June 1999. Vet. Res. 31, 99–115.

  51. Montagnaro, S., De Martinis, C., Sasso, S., Ciarcia, R., Damiano, S., Auletta, L., Iovane, V., Zottola, T., Pagnini, U., 2015. Viral and Antibody Prevalence of Hepatitis E in European Wild Boars (Sus scrofa) and Hunters at Zoonotic Risk in the Latium Region. J. Comp. Pathol. 153, 1–8.

  52. Montagnaro, S., Sasso, S., De Martino, L., Longo, M., Iovane, V., Ghiurmino, G., Pisanelli, G., Nava, D., Baldi, L., Pagnini, U., 2010. Prevalence of antibodies to selected viral and bacterial pathogens in wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Campania region, Italy. J. Wildl. Dis. 46, 316–319.

  53. Moreno, A., Sozzi, E., Grilli, G., Gibelli, L.R., Gelmetti, D., Lelli, D., Chiari, M., Prati, P., Alborali, G.L., Boniotti, M.B., Lavazza, A., Cordioli, P., 2015. Detection and molecular analysis of Pseudorabies virus strains isolated from dogs and a wild boar in Italy. Vet. Microbiol. 177, 359–365.

  54. Müller, T., Hahn, E.C., Tottewitz, F., Kramer, M., Klupp, B.G., Mettenleiter, T.C., Freuling, C., 2011. Pseudorabies virus in wild swine: a global perspective. Arch. Virol. 156, 1691–705.

  55. Müller, T., Klupp, B.G., Freuling, C., Hoffmann, B., Mojcicz, M., Capua, I., Palfi, V., Toma, B., Lutz, W., Ruiz-Fon, F., Gortrzar, C., Hlinak, A., Schaarschmidt, U., Zimmer, K., Conraths, F.J., Hahn, E.C., Mettenleiter, T.C., 2010. Characterization of pseudorabies virus of wild boar origin from Europe. Epidemiol. Infect. 138, 1590–1600.

  56. Nuti, M., Amaddeo, D., Autorino, G.L., Crovatto, M., Crucil, C., Ghionni, A., Giommi, M., Salvati, F., Santini, G.F., 1992. Seroprevalence of antibodies to hantaviruses and leptospires in selected Italian population groups. Eur. J. Epidemiol. 8, 98–102.

  57. Nuti, M., Amaddeo, D., Crovatto, M., Ghionni, A., Polato, D., Lillini, E., Pitzus, E., Santini, G.F., 1993. Infections in an alpine environment: Antibodies to hantaviruses, leptospira, rickettsiae, and Borrelia burgdorferi in defined Italian populations, in: American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. pp. 48:20–25.

  58. OIE (World Organization for Animal Health), 2016. Manual of diagnostic tests and vaccines for terrestrial animals 2017, Chapter 2.1.4., (Brucella abortus, B. melitensis and B. suis) (infection with B. abortus, B. melitensis and B. suis).

  59. Olsen S.C., Garin-Bastuji, B., Blasco, J.M., Nicola, A.M., Samartino, L., 2012. Brucellosis. In: Zimmerman JJ, Karriker LA, Ramirez A, Schwartz KJ, Stevenson GW (eds) Diseases of swine. Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, pp. 697–708

  60. Olsen, S.C., Tatum, F.M., 2017. Swine brucellosis: current perspectives. Veterinary Medicine 8:1–12

  61. Ostanello, F., Dottori, M., Gusmara, C., Leotti, G., Sala, V., 2007. Pneumonia disease assessment using a slaughterhouse lung-scoring method. J. Vet. Med. Ser. A 54, 70–75.

  62. Pannwitz, G., Freuling, C., Denzin, N., Schaarschmidt, U., Nieper, H., Hlinak, A., Burkhardt, S., Klopries, M., Dedek, J., Hoffmann, L., Kramer, M., Selhorst, T., Conraths, F.J., Mettenleiter, T., Müller, T., 2012. A long-term serological survey on Aujeszky’s disease virus infections in wild boar in East Germany. Epidemiol. Infect. 140, 348–353.

  63. Pappas, G., 2010. The changing Brucella ecology: Novel reservoirs, new threats. Int. J. Antimicrob. Agents 36, S8–S11.

  64. Pedersen, K., Bevins, S.N., Baroch, J.A., Cumbee, J.C., Chandler, S.C., Woodruff, B.S., Bigelow, T.T., DeLiberto, T.J., 2013. Pseudorabies in feral swine in the United States, 2009–2012. J. Wildl. Dis. 49, 709–713.

  65. Pittiglio, C., Khomenko, S., Beltran-Alcrudo, D., 2018. Wild boar mapping using population-density statistics: From polygons to high resolution raster maps. PLoS One 13, e0193295.

  66. R Core Team, 2015. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Found. Stat. Comput. Vienna, Austria.

  67. Ruiz-Fons, F., Segalés, J., Gortázar, C., 2008. A review of viral diseases of the European wild boar: Effects of population dynamics and reservoir rôle. Vet. J. 176, 158–169.

  68. Sadkowska-Todys, M., Baumann-Popczyk, A., Wnukowska, N., Popczyk, B., Kucharczyk, B., Gołąb, E., 2015. Occurrence and prevalence of selected zoonotic agents: Echinococcus multilocularis, Trichinella spiralis and hepatitis E virus (HEV) in the population of Polish hunters–results of the study conducted in 2010-2012. Przegl. Epidemiol. 69, 678.

  69. Schielke, A., Ibrahim, V., Czogiel, I., Faber, M., Schrader, C., Dremsek, P., Ulrich, R.G., Johne, R., 2015. Hepatitis E virus antibody prevalence in hunters from a district in Central Germany, 2013: a cross-sectional study providing evidence for the benefit of protective gloves during disembowelling of wild boars. BMC Infect. Dis. 15, 440.

  70. Sedlak, K., Bartova, E., Machova, J., 2008. Antibodies to selected viral disease agents in wild boars from the Czech Republic. J. Wildl. Dis. 44, 777–780.

  71. Simionatto, S., Marchioro, S.B., Maes, D., Dellagostin, O.A., 2013. Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae: From disease to vaccine development. Vet. Microbiol. 165, 234–242.

  72. Smith, D.B., Simmonds, P., Jameel, S., Emerson, S.U., Harrison, T.J., Meng, X.-J., Okamoto, H., Van der Poel, W.H.M., Purdy, M. A., Purdy, Michael A, 2014. Consensus proposals for classification of the family Hepeviridae. J. Gen. Virol. 95, 2223–2232.

  73. Steinrigl, A., Revilla-Fernández, S., Kolodziejek, J., Wodak, E., Bagó, Z., Nowotny, N., Schmoll, F., Köfer, J., 2012. Detection and molecular characterization of Suid herpesvirus type 1 in Austrian wild boar and hunting dogs. Vet. Microbiol. 157, 276–284.

  74. Szulowski, K., Iwaniak, W., Weiner, M., Złotnicka, J., 2013. Brucella suis biovar 2 isolations from cattle in Poland. Ann. Agric. Environ. Med. 20, 672–5.

  75. Tagliabue S, Figarolli BM, Incau M., Foschi, G., Gennero, M.S., Giordani, R., Natale, A., Papa, P., Ponti, N., Scaltrito, D., Spadari, L., Vesco, G., Ruocco, L., 2016. Serological surveillance of Leptospirosis in Italy: two -year national data (2010-2011). Veterinaria Italiana 52, 129–138.

  76. Vale-Gonçalves, H.M., Cabral, J.A., Faria, M.C., Nunes-Pereira, M., Faria, A.S., Veloso, O., Vieira, M.L., Paiva-Cardoso, M.N., 2015. Prevalence of Leptospira antibodies in wild boars (Sus scrofa) from Northern Portugal: risk factor analysis. Epidemiol. Infect. 143, 2126–2130.

  77. Van der Poel, W.H., 2014. Food and environmental routes of Hepatitis E virus transmission. Curr. Opin. Virol. 4, 91–96.

  78. Vengust, G., Lindtner-Knific, R., Zele, D., Bidovec, A., 2008. Leptospira antibodies in wild boars (Sus scrofa) in Slovenia. Eur. J. Wildl. Res. 54, 749–752.

  79. Verin, R., Varuzza, P., Mazzei, M., Poli, A., 2014. Serologic, molecular, and pathologic survey of pseudorabies virus infection in hunted wild boars (Sus scrofa) in Italy. J. Wildl. Dis. 50, 559–65.

  80. Vicente, J., León-Vizcaíno, L., Gortázar, C., Cubero, M.J., González, M., Martín-Atance, P., 2002. Antibodies to Selected Viral and Bacterial Pathogens in European Wild Boars from Southcentral Spain. J. Wildl. Dis. 38, 649–652.

  81. Żmudzki, J., Jabłoński, A., Nowak, A., Zębek, S., Arent, Z., Bocian, Ł., Pejsak, Z., 2016. First overall report of Leptospira infections in wild boars in Poland. Acta Vet. Scand. 58, 3.

Download references


This research has been supported by Fondi di Ateneo of University of Pisa.

Author information

Correspondence to Giovanni Cilia.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no conflict of interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bertelloni, F., Mazzei, M., Cilia, G. et al. Serological Survey on Bacterial and Viral Pathogens in Wild Boars Hunted in Tuscany. EcoHealth (2020).

Download citation


  • Zoonosis
  • Surveillance
  • Epidemiology
  • Seroprevalence
  • Infectious disease
  • Wild boar