Rift Valley fever and lumpy skin disease are transboundary viral diseases endemic in Africa
and some parts of the Middle East, but with increasing potential for global emergence. Wild
ruminants, such as the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), are thought to play a role in the
epidemiology of these diseases. This study sought to expand the understanding of the role
of buffalo in the maintenance of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) and lumpy skin disease virus
(LSDV) by determining seroprevalence to these viruses during an inter-epidemic period.
Buffaloes from the Kruger National Park (n = 138) and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (n = 110)
in South Africa were sampled and tested for immunoglobulin G (IgG) and neutralising
antibodies against LSDV and RVFV using an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
(I-ELISA) and the serum neutralisation test (SNT). The I-ELISA for LSDV and RVFV detected
IgG antibodies in 70 of 248 (28.2%) and 15 of 248 (6.1%) buffaloes, respectively. Using the SNT,
LSDV and RVFV neutralising antibodies were found in 5 of 66 (7.6%) and 12 of 57 (21.1%),
respectively, of samples tested. The RVFV I-ELISA and SNT results correlated well with
previously reported results. Of the 12 SNT RVFV-positive sera, three (25.0%) had very high
SNT titres of 1:640. Neutralising antibody titres of more than 1:80 were found in 80.0% of
the positive sera tested. The LSDV SNT results did not correlate with results obtained by the
I-ELISA and neutralising antibody titres detected were low, with the highest (1:20) recorded in
only two buffaloes, whilst 11 buffaloes (4.4%) had evidence of co-infection with both viruses.
Results obtained in this study complement other reports suggesting a role for buffaloes in the
epidemiology of these diseases during inter-epidemic periods.