Publications by authors named "Santiago Lavín"

97 Publications

Wild boar in the city: Phenotypic responses to urbanisation.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Jun 4;773:145593. Epub 2021 Feb 4.

Wildlife Ecology & Health group and Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge, Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Travessera dels Turons s/n, 08193, Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address:

Urbanisation is a global human-induced environmental change and one of the most important threats to biodiversity. To survive in human-modified environments, wildlife must adjust to the challenging selection pressures of urban areas through behaviour, morphology, physiology and/or genetic changes. Here we explore the effect of urbanisation in a large, highly adaptable and generalist urban adapter species, the wild boar (Sus scrofa, Linnaeus 1758). From 2005 to 2018, we gathered wild boar data and samples from three areas in NE Spain: one urban (Barcelona municipality, n = 445), and two non-urban (Serra de Collserola Natural Park, n = 183, and Sant Llorenç del Munt i Serra de l'Obac Natural Park, n = 54). We investigated whether urbanisation influenced wild boar body size, body mass, body condition, and the concentration of serum metabolites, considering also the effect of age, sex and use of anthropogenic food resources. Wild boars from the urban area had larger body size, higher body mass, better body condition, and a higher triglyceride and lower creatinine serum concentrations than non-urban wild boars. In addition, urban wild boars consumed food from anthropogenic origin more frequently, which suggests that differences in their diet probably induced the biometric and the metabolic changes observed. These responses are probably adaptive and suggest that wild boars are thriving in the urban environment. Our results show that urbanisation can change the morphological and physiological traits of a large mammal urban adapter, which may have consequences in the ecology and response to urban selection pressures by the species. The phenotypic plasticity shown by wild boars provides both further and new evidence on the mechanisms that allow urban adapter species of greater size to respond to urbanisation, which is expected to continue growing globally over the coming decades.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145593DOI Listing
June 2021

Molecular Detection and Identification of in the Eyes of Wild and Domestic Ruminant Hosts from Northern Spain.

Pathogens 2021 Mar 23;10(3). Epub 2021 Mar 23.

Department of Ecosystem & Public Health, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada.

Infections by Chlamydiae are associated with ocular disease in humans and animals. In this study, the presence and diversity of spp. was assessed in diseased and healthy eyes of domestic sheep and wild ruminants that share mountain habitats in northern Spain. The presence of spp. was tested by real-time PCR in 1786 conjunctival swabs collected from both eyes of 893 animals from mountain habitats in northern Spain, and chlamydial species were identified in the positive samples by ArrayTube microarray methods. Chlamydial DNA was detected in 0.6% (CI95% 0.2-1.3) of the Pyrenean chamois () and 1.4% (CI95% <0.01-8.1) of the sheep () sampled, with the only chlamydial species identified. No association of with ocular disease or co-infection with was found. Further studies on the pathogenesis of infectious keratoconjunctivitis are needed to better understand the ecology of and its possible role as a ruminant pathogen at the wildlife-livestock interface.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10030383DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8005166PMC
March 2021

Sarcoptic mange in wild ruminants in Spain: solving the epidemiological enigma using microsatellite markers.

Parasit Vectors 2021 Mar 20;14(1):171. Epub 2021 Mar 20.

Department of Veterinary Science, University of Turin, Largo Braccini 2, 10095, Grugliasco, Italy.

Background: In Spain, sarcoptic mange was first described in native wildlife in 1987 in Cazorla Natural Park, causing the death of nearly 95% of the local native population of Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica). Since then, additional outbreaks have been identified in several populations of ibex and other wild ungulate species throughout the country. Although the first epizootic outbreak in wildlife was attributed to the introduction of an infected herd of domestic goats, the origin and the cause of its persistence remain unclear. The main aims of this study are to understand (i) the number of Sarcoptes scabiei "strains" circulating in wild ruminant populations in Spain, and (ii) the molecular epidemiological relationships between S. scabiei and its hosts.

Methods: Ten Sarcoptes microsatellite markers were used to characterize the genetic structure of 266 mites obtained from skin scrapings of 121 mangy wild ruminants between 2011 and 2019 from 11 areas in Spain.

Results: Seventy-three different alleles and 37 private alleles were detected. The results of this study show the existence of three genetic strains of S. scabiei in the wild ruminant populations investigated. While two genetic clusters of S. scabiei were host- and geography-related, one cluster included multi-host mites deriving from geographically distant populations.

Conclusions: The molecular epidemiological study of S. scabiei in wild ruminants in Spain indicates that the spreading and persistence of the parasite may be conditioned by host species community composition and the permissiveness of each host population/community to the circulation of individual "strains," among other factors. Wildlife-livestock interactions and the role of human-driven introduction or trade of wild and domestic animals should be better investigated to prevent further spread of sarcoptic mange in as yet unaffected natural areas of the Iberian Peninsula.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-021-04673-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7981868PMC
March 2021

Early life investment in antlers and body growth reflects adult performance in roe deer population under supplementary feeding conditions.

Integr Zool 2021 Mar 16. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Departamento de Sistemas y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.

Recent research has challenged the idea that cervid antlers are such costly traits, supporting the assertion early-life antler investment is an honest signal of adult phenotypic quality. However, inferences were made based on antler measurements while growing (velvet) and thus, studies on fully-formed clean antlers are needed to avoid possible bias caused by the inter-individual variation in antler growth phenology. We studied a semi-captive population of European roe deer inhabiting a sub-Mediterranean area (Valsemana research station) and living under optimal conditions (ad libitum food supply and veterinary care). Based on repeated measurements taken from 146 individuals, we assessed whether allocation to secondary sexual traits during early life affected body mass or antler development during adulthood. Furthermore, we evaluated which body measurements better predicted future male quality. Additionally, using 488 individuals, we described age-class-specific variation in male body measurements and assessed the decline in antler size between adult and senescent stages (i.e. magnitude of senescence). Results agree with the assertion that there is no negative effect of a high investment in antler during early life on adult antler size or body mass, but we suggest the use of clean antlers as a more robust and reliable measure. The variables that better predicted body mass during adulthood were yearling body mass and body size at 6 months. Antler score between 10 and 18 months resulted in the best indicator of adult antler size. Finally, we support the idea that the magnitude of senescence in antler size is smaller in environments with higher resource availability during winter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1749-4877.12535DOI Listing
March 2021

Comment on: "The treatment of sarcoptic mange in wildlife: a systematic review".

Parasit Vectors 2020 Sep 15;13(1):471. Epub 2020 Sep 15.

Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie, Universitá di Torino, Grugliasco, Torino, Italy.

This letter comments on the article "The treatment of sarcoptic mange in wildlife: a systematic review" published in Parasites & Vectors 2019, 12:99, and discusses the limitations in the use of endectocides for scabies control in free-ranging wildlife. The ecological impact and drug resistance to ivermectin are also discussed. In our view, scabies control in free-ranging wildlife should be based preferably on population management measures, and whether to apply individual treatments to free-ranging populations should be considered very carefully and avoided where not absolutely warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-020-04347-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7491160PMC
September 2020

Assessing methods to live-capture wild boars () in urban and peri-urban environments.

Vet Rec 2020 Nov 21;187(10):e85. Epub 2020 Aug 21.

Wildlife Ecology & Health group and Servei d' Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain

Background: Wild boar () populations are increasing worldwide and invading urban areas. Live-capture can improve the management of this challenge, maximising efficiency, allowing scientific studies and potentially improving animal welfare. This study assesses teleanaesthesia, drop-net, corral trap and cage trap to live-capture wild boar in urban and peri-urban areas, evaluating efficiency and animal stress through haematology and serum biochemistry.

Methods: From 2012 to 2018, 655 wild boars were captured in 279 operations (drop-net=17, teleanaesthesia=186, cage trap=66 and corral trap=10) in the urban and peri-urban areas of Barcelona (Spain). Haematological and serum biochemical variables were determined in 145 wild boars (42 drop-netted, 41 teleanaesthetised, 38 cage-trapped and 24 corral-trapped).

Results: Performance (wild boars captured per operation) was highest for drop-net, followed by corral and cage traps, and finally teleanaesthesia. The three physical capture methods were more stressful than teleanaesthesia, causing a more intense physiological reaction, muscular damage, renal function impairment and homeostasis adaption. Stress response was predominantly adrenergic for drop-net and cortisol-induced for cage and corral traps.

Conclusion: Teleanaesthesia is the choice in reactive urban situations thanks to its adaptability; drop-net effectively targets wild boars in peri-urban environments; cage and corral traps are useful as long-term methods in specific areas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/vr.105766DOI Listing
November 2020

Remote mapping of foodscapes using sUAS and a low cost BG-NIR sensor.

Sci Total Environ 2020 May 16;718:137357. Epub 2020 Feb 16.

Wildlife Ecology & Health Group (WE&H), Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Spain; Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie, Universitá di Torino, Grugliasco, Torino, Italy. Electronic address:

The assessment of landscape condition for large herbivores, also known as foodscapes, is fast gaining interest in conservation and landscape management programs worldwide. Although traditional approaches are now being replaced by satellite imagery, several technical issues still need to be addressed before full standardization of remote sensing methods for these purposes. We present a low-cost method, based on the use of a modified blue/green/near-infrared (BG-NIR) camera housed on a small-Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS), to create foodscapes for a generalist Mediterranean ungulate: the Iberian Ibex (Capra pyrenaica) in Northeast Spain. Faecal cuticle micro-histological analyses were used to assess the dietary preferences of ibexes and then individuals of the most common plant species (n = 19) were georeferenced to use as test samples. Because of the seasonal pattern in vegetation activity, based on the NDVI (Smooth term  = 21.5, p-value < .01, R = 43%, from a GAM), images were recorded in winter and spring to represent contrasting vegetation phenology using two flight heights above ground level (30 and 60 m). Additionally, the range of image pixel sizes was 3.5-30 cm with the smallest pixel size representing the highest resolution. Boosted Trees were used to classify plant taxa based on spectral reflectance and create a foodscape of the study area. The number of target species, the sampling season, the height of flight and the image resolution were analysed to determine the accuracy of mapping the foodscape. The highest classification error (70.66%) was present when classifying all plant species using a 30 cm pixel size from acquisitions at 30 m height. The lowest error (18.7%), however, was present when predicting plants preferred by ibexes, at 3.5 cm pixel size acquired at 60 m height. This methodology can help to successfully monitor food availability and seasonality and to identify individual species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137357DOI Listing
May 2020

Method validation, reference values, and characterization of acute-phase protein responses to experimentally induced inflammation and bluetongue virus infection in the Iberian ibex.

Vet Clin Pathol 2019 Dec 20;48(4):695-701. Epub 2019 Nov 20.

Servei d'Hematologia Clínica Veterinària, Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Background: Acute phase protein (APP) concentrations can change due to inflammation and be used to monitor disease in the Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica).

Objectives: This study aimed to validate Haptoglobin (Hp) and serum amyloid A (SAA) analytes, establish reference values, and characterize Hp and SAA responses in the Iberian ibex after experimentally induced inflammation and experimental bluetongue virus (BTV) infection.

Methods: Sera from 40 free-ranging box-trapped ibexes were used to establish Hp and SAA reference values. Six healthy ibexes were subcutaneously injected with 5 mL of turpentine, then, blood samples were taken, and clinical evaluations were performed on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 14 postinjection. Another seven ibexes were challenged with BTV. Serum Hp and SAA concentrations were quantified using commercial assays following the manufacturer's instructions.

Results: Intra-assay precision and linearity were acceptable for both Hp and SAA. Intra-assay variation for high and low concentration of Hp and SAA were 9.74% and 17.31% and 16.49% and 12.89%, respectively. Inter-assay variation was higher for the low APP concentrations. Reference values for the healthy Iberian ibexes were (median, minimum, and maximum values) 0.2 (0.12-0.64) g/L for Hp and 4.74 (0.05-29.54) mg/L for SAA. Both Hp and SAA acted as a moderate and a major APP, respectively, and each could distinguish animals with turpentine-induced inflammation from those without. Hp and SAA did not change in asymptomatic BTV-infected animals.

Conclusion: This study validated Hp and SAA analytes and provided basal reference values for these analytes in the Iberian ibex. Both APPs were able to discriminate between healthy and diseased Iberian ibexes animals during turpentine-induced inflammatory processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/vcp.12802DOI Listing
December 2019

Experimental infection with high- and low-virulence strains of border disease virus (BDV) in Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica) sheds light on the epidemiological diversity of the disease.

Transbound Emerg Dis 2019 Jul 29;66(4):1619-1630. Epub 2019 Apr 29.

Wildlife Ecology & Health group (WE&H), Servei d' Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Spain.

Since 2001, Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica) populations have been affected by border disease virus (BDV) causing mortalities of more than 80% in some areas. Field studies carried out in France, Andorra, and Spain have shown different epidemiological scenarios in chamois populations. This study was designed to confirm the presence of BDV strains of a high and low virulence in free-ranging chamois populations from Pyrenees and to understand the implications of these findings to the diverse epidemiological scenarios. An experimental infection of Pyrenean chamois with a high-virulence (Cadí-6) and low-virulence (Freser-5) BDV strains was performed. Pregnant and non-pregnant animals with and without antibodies against BDV were included in each group. Cadí-6 BDV strain was confirmed to be of high virulence for seronegative adults and their foetuses. The antibody negative chamois infected with Freser-5 BDV strain did not show symptoms, presented less viral distribution and RNA load in tissues than Cadí-6 group, and cleared the virus from the serum. However, foetuses died before the end of the experiment and RNA virus was detected in sera and tissues although with lower RNA load than the Cadí-6 group. Chamois from both groups presented lesions in brain but the ones infected with the low-virulence Freser-5 BDV strain were mild and most likely transient. In both groups, seropositive pregnant females and all but one of their foetuses did not present viraemia or viral RNA in tissues. The existence of a low-virulence strain has been confirmed experimentally and related to chamois population infection dynamics in the area where it was isolated. Such strain may persist in the chamois population through PI animals and may induce cross-protection in chamois against high-virulence strains. This study demonstrates that viral strain diversity is a significant factor in the heterogeneity of epidemiological scenarios in Pyrenean chamois populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tbed.13195DOI Listing
July 2019

Seasonal diet composition of Pyrenean chamois is mainly shaped by primary production waves.

PLoS One 2019 23;14(1):e0210819. Epub 2019 Jan 23.

Wildlife Ecology and Health Group (WE&H), and Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain.

In alpine habitats, the seasonally marked climatic conditions generate seasonal and spatial differences in forage availability for herbivores. Vegetation availability and quality during the growing season are known to drive life history traits of mountain ungulates. However, little effort has been made to understand the association between plant phenology and changes in the foraging strategies of these mountain dwellers. Furthermore, this link can be affected by the seasonal presence of livestock in the same meadows. The objective of this work was to study the seasonal changes in diet composition of Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica) and its relationship to primary production trends in a Mediterranean alpine environment. Moreover, diet composition in two populations with contrasting livestock pressure was compared in order to study the effect of sheep flocks on the feeding behaviour of chamois. From 2009 to 2012, monthly diet composition was estimated by cuticle microhistological analysis of chamois faeces collected in the eastern Pyrenees. The primary production cycle was assessed by remote sensing, using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. Additionally, the diet of sheep sharing seasonally the subalpine and alpine meadows with chamois was analysed. Diet selection of chamois and sheep and their overlap was also assessed. Our results show an intra-annual variation in the diet composition of Pyrenean chamois and demonstrate a strong relationship between plant consumption dynamics and phenology in alpine areas. In addition, Calluna vulgaris, Cytisus spp. and Festuca spp., as well as forbs in the summer, are found to be key forage species for Pyrenean chamois. Furthermore, this study couldn't detect differences between both chamois populations despite the presence of sheep flocks in only one area. However, the detection of a shift in the diet of chamois in both areas after the arrival of high densities of multi-specific livestock suggest a general livestock effect. In conclusion, Pyrenean chamois are well adapted to the variations in the seasonal availability of plants in alpine habitats but could be disturbed by the seasonal presence of livestock. Due to the key plants in their diet, we suggest that population management programmes should focus on the preservation of mixed grasslands composed of patches of shrubs and herbs. The effects of climate change and shrub expansion should be studied as they may potentially affect chamois population dynamics through changes in habitat composition and temporal shifts in forage availability.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0210819PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6343923PMC
October 2019

Stochastic assessment of management strategies for a Mediterranean peri-urban wild boar population.

PLoS One 2018 29;13(8):e0202289. Epub 2018 Aug 29.

Wildlife Ecology & Health Group and Servei d' Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i CirurgiaAnimals, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain.

Wild boar (Sus scrofa) population spread into urban and periurban areas has exacerbated conflicts with humans. There is a need for planned wild boar management strategies, and Population viability analysis (PVA) combined with perturbation analyses allow the assessment of the management effort of control methods. Our study aims to develop stochastic predictive models of the increasing wild boar population of the 80 km2 peri-urban Mediterranean area of Collserola Natural Park (CNP), located near Barcelona, Spain, as well as assessing specific management measures (including reduced food availability, selective harvest, and reduction in fertility). Population parameters were estimated from previously published census and hunting data provided by the CNP and the local hunting administration. The results revealed that under the current conditions the CNP wild boar population will continue to increase. The most efficient strategy to reduce wild boar abundance was a combination of reducing supplementary anthropogenic food resources and selective removal of juvenile (<1 year) and yearling (1-2 years) wild boar. These strategies will probably be also the most efficient ones in other oversupplemented increasing wild boar populations in similar situations, although specific studies will be needed to fine-tune the best management option for each context. PVA allows the prediction of future population trends and the assessment of the efficacy and efficiency of potential management strategies before implementing management measures.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202289PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6114779PMC
February 2019

Assessment of the exposure to heavy metals and arsenic in captive and free-living black kites (Milvus migrans) nesting in Portugal.

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2018 Sep 26;160:191-196. Epub 2018 May 26.

Center for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Quinta dos Prados, 5000-801, Vila Real, Portugal; Department of Zootechnics, Escola de Ciências Agrárias e Veterinárias, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Quinta dos Prados, 5000-801 Vila Real, Portugal. Electronic address:

Due to their high trophic level, raptor species may serve as important indicators of environmental contamination by heavy metals. This study was conducted to determine if the habitat of the black kite (Milvus migrans) is contaminated by heavy metals and arsenic and to assess the degree and type of exposure that may be present. For this purpose, this study was conducted on a group of captive birds (n = 12) and on a group of free-living birds admitted to two wildlife rehabilitation centers (n = 31). Blood samples were taken for analysis of arsenic (As), mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) concentrations by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Captive birds had the lowest blood concentrations for all toxic elements examined, but significant differences from the concentrations found in free-living birds were only observed for Hg and Pb (p < 0.01). Arsenic concentrations were almost three times higher in free-living birds (4.521 ± 5.695 µg/dl) then in captive birds (1.566 ± 0.753 µg/dl). In all the samples of captive birds' mercury was not detected, while in free-living birds we observed a concentration of 7.493 ± 8.464 µg/dl (p < 0.01). Regarding lead, we observed a concentration almost four-fold higher in free-living birds (19.430 ± 29.294 µg/dl) then in captive birds (4.449 ± 1.987 µg/dl) (p < 0.01). Therefore, available sources of Pb and Hg seem to be present in the habitat of the black kite.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2018.05.040DOI Listing
September 2018

Urban Wild Boars and Risk for Zoonotic Streptococcus suis, Spain.

Emerg Infect Dis 2018 06;24(6):1083-1086

Urban wild boars (Sus scrofa) from Barcelona, Spain, harbor great diversity of Streptococcus suis strains, including strains with the cps2 gene and with the same molecular profile as local human cases. The increasing trend of potential effective contacts for S. suis transmission is of public health concern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2406.171271DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6004849PMC
June 2018

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

BMC Vet Res 2018 Mar 27;14(1):117. Epub 2018 Mar 27.

Centre for Fish and Wildlife Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Länggass-Str. 122, Postfach, 3001, Bern, Switzerland.

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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12917-018-1430-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5872548PMC
March 2018

On the possible role of ticks in the eco-epidemiology of Coxiella burnetii in a Mediterranean ecosystem.

Ticks Tick Borne Dis 2018 03 21;9(3):687-694. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

Wildlife Ecology & Health group (WEH) and Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain; Departament de Ciència Animal, Escola Tècnica Superior d'Enginyeria Agraria (ETSEA), Universitat de Lleida (UdL), Lleida, Spain. Electronic address:

Ruminant livestock is the main reservoir of Coxiella burnetii (Cb), but little is known about the role of wildlife and ticks in its epidemiology. The Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica, Schinz 1838) population of "Ports de Tortosa i Beseit" (NE Spain) suffers intense tick infestations and low reproduction rates. This study aims to (1) assess the relationship between infection in ibexes (detection of serum antibodies and/or of Cb DNA in tissues) and Cb DNA presence in ticks hosted by the same ibexes; and (2) identify Cb associated risk factors. Between 2011 and 2015, serum (n = 130), spleen (n = 72), lymph node (n = 89) and tick (n = 669) samples from 134 hunter-harvested ibexes were collected. Antibody detection was performed by ELISA and Cb DNA presence was assessed by PCR. Potential risk factors were assessed with regression tree models. Although 30% of the ibexes (39/130; 95%CI, [10%-29.8%]) had antibodies, Cb DNA was detected in only 9.8% of the ibexes (11/112; 95%CI [7.6%-27.25%]). The prevalence of Cb-carrier ticks averaged 10% and exceeded 20% for the genus Haemaphysalis. However, lacking correlation between infection in ibexes and their ticks does not support tick-to-ibex transmission or vice versa. Tree modelling points to host, population and environmental factors as drivers of Cb infection in ticks and suggests connections with the domestic cycle. The percentage of Cb-carrier ticks detected is noteworthy. Along with heavy tick infestations, it suggests vector potential for these tick species, especially for the genera Rhipicephalus and Haemaphysalis. Since vector competence has not been assessed in these tick species, a classic vector role cannot be proposed nor discarded, but promoter factors of vector capacity occur. In addition, the risk of tick-borne infection through tick excreta should not be neglected. While the airborne route is the preeminent route for Cb infection, ticks' contribution to Cb epidemiology deserves further attention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2018.02.014DOI Listing
March 2018

Histopathology, microbiology and the inflammatory process associated with Sarcoptes scabiei infection in the Iberian ibex, Capra pyrenaica.

Parasit Vectors 2017 Dec 4;10(1):596. Epub 2017 Dec 4.

Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), E-08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain.

Background: Sarcoptic mange has been identified as the most significant infectious disease affecting the Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica). Despite several studies on the effects of mange on ibex, the pathological and clinical picture derived from sarcoptic mange infestation is still poorly understood. To further knowledge of sarcoptic mange pathology, samples from ibex were evaluated from histological, microbiological and serological perspectives.

Methods: Samples of skin, non-dermal tissues and blood were collected from 54 ibex (25 experimentally infected, 15 naturally infected and 14 healthy). Skin biopsies were examined at different stages of the disease for quantitative cellular, structural and vascular changes. Sixteen different non-dermal tissues of each ibex were taken for histological study. Acetylcholinesterase and serum amyloid A protein levels were evaluated from blood samples from ibex with different lesional grade. Samples of mangy skin, suppurative lesions and internal organs were characterized microbiologically by culture. Bacterial colonies were identified by a desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry system (MALDI TOF/TOF).

Results: The histological study of the skin lesions revealed serious acanthosis, hyperkeratosis, rete ridges, spongiotic oedema, serocellular and eosinophilic crusts, exocytosis foci, apoptotic cells and sebaceous gland hyperplasia. The cellular response in the dermis was consistent with type I and type IV hypersensitivity responses. The most prominent histological findings in non-dermal tissues were lymphoid hyperplasia, leukocytosis, congestion and the presence of amyloid deposits. The increase in serum concentrations of acetylcholinesterase and amyloid A protein correlated positively with the establishment of the inflammatory response in mangy skin and the presence of systemic amyloidosis. A wide variety of bacterial agents were isolated and the simultaneous presence of these in mangy skin, lymph nodes and internal organs such as lungs, liver, spleen and kidney was compatible with a septicaemic pattern of infection.

Conclusions: The alteration of biomarkers of inflammation and its implication in the pathogenesis of the disease and development of lesions in non-dermal tissues and septicaemic processes are serious conditioners for the survival of the mangy ibex. This severe clinical picture could be an important factor when considering the decision to eliminate animals that exceed a certain disease threshold from a population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-2542-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5715492PMC
December 2017

Long-term dynamics of Mycoplasma conjunctivae at the wildlife-livestock interface in the Pyrenees.

PLoS One 2017 9;12(10):e0186069. Epub 2017 Oct 9.

Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.

Functional roles of domestic and wild host populations in infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) epidemiology have been extensively discussed claiming a domestic reservoir for the more susceptible wild hosts, however, based on limited data. With the aim to better assess IKC epidemiology in complex host-pathogen alpine systems, the long-term infectious dynamics and molecular epidemiology of Mycoplasma conjunctivae was investigated in all host populations from six study areas in the Pyrenees and one in the Cantabrian Mountains (Northern Spain). Detection of M. conjunctivae was performed by qPCR on 3600 eye swabs collected during seven years from hunted wild ungulates and sympatric domestic sheep (n = 1800 animals), and cluster analyses of the strains were performed including previous reported local strains. Mycoplasma conjunctivae was consistently detected in three Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica) populations, as well as in sheep flocks (17.0% of sheep) and occasionally in mouflon (Ovis aries musimon) from the Pyrenees (22.2% in one year/area); statistically associated with ocular clinical signs only in chamois. Chamois populations showed different infection dynamics with low but steady prevalence (4.9%) and significant yearly fluctuations (0.0%- 40.0%). Persistence of specific M. conjunctivae strain clusters in wild host populations is demonstrated for six and nine years. Cross-species transmission between chamois and sheep and chamois and mouflon were also sporadically evidenced. Overall, independent M. conjunctivae sylvatic and domestic cycles occurred at the wildlife-livestock interface in the alpine ecosystems from the Pyrenees with sheep and chamois as the key host species for each cycle, and mouflon as a spill-over host. Host population characteristics and M. conjunctivae strains resulted in different epidemiological scenarios in chamois, ranging from the fading out of the mycoplasma to the epidemic and endemic long-term persistence. These findings highlight the capacity of M. conjunctivae to establish diverse interactions and persist in host populations, also with different transmission conditions.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0186069PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5633175PMC
October 2017

Urban wild boars prefer fragmented areas with food resources near natural corridors.

Sci Total Environ 2018 Feb 2;615:282-288. Epub 2017 Oct 2.

Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address:

Wild boar populations are expanding throughout the world and intruding into periurban and urban areas. In the last years, wild boar has colonized several European cities, including our study area, the city of Barcelona. It is required to identify the main factors driving wild boar into urban areas prior to establish management measures. We built Boosted Regression Trees (BRT) using 3148 wild boar presences registered in the urban area of Barcelona from 2010 to 2014 to identify the variables correlated with these presences. The variables analysed included proxies for distance to source population, urban food resources, climate and urban habitat structure. Wild boars enter the urban area from close natural habitat using corridors such as streams, preferably in fragmented urban environment, looking for food such as urban green areas or dry pet food from cat colonies. Wild boar presence is higher in spring possibly due to the births of piglets and the dispersion of yearlings during that season, and also when natural resources in the Mediterranean habitat fail to satisfy the nutritional requirements of the wild boar population during the summer season. Management measures derived from this study are currently being applied in the city of Barcelona, including vegetation clearings in the wild boar entrance areas and an awareness campaign aimed at reducing the anthropogenic food availability for wild boars. The methodology used can be applied to other cities with wild boar or even other wildlife species issues. The comparison between the factors attracting wild boars into different urban areas would be helpful to understand the global phenomenon.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.09.277DOI Listing
February 2018

African swine fever virus infection in Classical swine fever subclinically infected wild boars.

BMC Vet Res 2017 Aug 1;13(1):227. Epub 2017 Aug 1.

IRTA, Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA, IRTA-UAB), Campus de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193, Bellaterra, Spain.

Background: Recently moderate-virulence classical swine fever virus (CSFV) strains have been proven capable of generating postnatal persistent infection (PI), defined by the maintenance of viremia and the inability to generate CSFV-specific immune responses in animals. These animals also showed a type I interferon blockade in the absence of clinical signs. In this study, we assessed the infection generated in 7-week-old CSFV PI wild boars after infection with the African swine fever virus (ASFV). The wild boars were divided in two groups and were infected with ASFV. Group A comprised boars who were CSFV PI in a subclinical form and Group B comprised pestivirus-free wild boars. Some relevant parameters related to CSFV replication and the immune response of CSFV PI animals were studied. Additionally, serum soluble factors such as IFN-α, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-10, IFN-γ and sCD163 were analysed before and after ASFV infection to assess their role in disease progression.

Results: After ASFV infection, only the CSFV PI wild boars showed progressive acute haemorrhagic disease; however, the survival rates following ASFV infection was similar in both experimental groups. Notwithstanding, the CSFV RNA load of CSFV PI animals remained unaltered over the study; likewise, the ASFV DNA load detected after infection was similar between groups. Interestingly, systemic type I FN-α and IL-10 levels in sera were almost undetectable in CSFV PI animals, yet detectable in Group B, while detectable levels of IFN-γ were found in both groups. Finally, the flow cytometry analysis showed an increase in myelomonocytic cells (CD172a) and a decrease in CD4 T cells in the PBMCs from CSFV PI animals after ASFV infection.

Conclusions: Our results showed that the immune response plays a role in the progression of disease in CSFV subclinically infected wild boars after ASFV infection, and the immune response comprised the systemic type I interferon blockade. ASFV does not produce any interference with CSFV replication, or vice versa. ASFV infection could be a trigger factor for the disease progression in CSFV PI animals, as their survival after ASFV was similar to that of the pestivirus-free ASFV-infected group. This fact suggests a high resistance in CSFV PI animals even against a virus like ASFV; this may mean that there are relevant implications for CSF control in endemic countries. The diagnosis of ASFV and CSFV co-infection in endemic countries cannot be ruled out and need to be studied in greater depth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12917-017-1150-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540480PMC
August 2017

EFFECTS OF SEASON AND POSTMORTEM CHANGES ON BLOOD ANALYTES IN PYRENEAN CHAMOIS (RUPICAPRA PYRENAICA PYRENAICA).

J Wildl Dis 2017 10 22;53(4):718-724. Epub 2017 Jun 22.

1   Serveid'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge, Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain.

Our objectives were to evaluate the effects of the 1) season, and 2) postmortem changes on serum biochemistries related with metabolism in Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica). Serum samples from 98 animals obtained from 2009 to 2012 were included. To investigate seasonal influences on blood parameters, the Pyrenean chamois were captured in drive-nets during the feed abundant (FA; n=32) and food deficient (FD; n=35) seasons. To evaluate the possible differences in biochemistry analytes when sampling live or dead animals, we used serum samples from 32 captured animals and 31 dead animals (obtained during controlled hunting) in the FA season. Significant increases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (24%), nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA, 190%), total antioxidant capacity (68%), and haptoglobin (33%) were observed in FD when compared with FA seasons. Albumin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) showed statistically significant decreases of 10% and 11%, respectively, in samples taken in the FD season compared to the FA season. Statistically significant higher concentrations were found in serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (22%), triglycerides (28%), acetylcholinesterase (50%), NEFA (383%), albumin (18%), IGF-1 (53%), cortisol (959%), and paraoxonase-1 (20%) in samples collected from live animals compared to samples collected from dead ones. We demonstrated that season should be taken into account when evaluating serum biochemistries in Pyrenean chamois because, in the FD season, these animals present lipid mobilization, decreased albumin and IGF-1, and increased total antioxidant capacity compared with the FA season. In addition, if samples are taken from dead animals, observed decreases in serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, albumin, paraoxonase-1, acetylcholinesterase, NEFA, cortisol, IGF-1, and an increase in haptoglobin should be expected.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7589/2016-06-126DOI Listing
October 2017

Predicting herbivore faecal nitrogen using a multispecies near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy calibration.

PLoS One 2017 28;12(4):e0176635. Epub 2017 Apr 28.

Ruminant Research Group, Departament de Ciència Animal i dels Aliments, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain.

Optimal management of free-ranging herbivores requires the accurate assessment of an animal's nutritional status. For this purpose 'near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy' (NIRS) is very useful, especially when nutritional assessment is done through faecal indicators such as faecal nitrogen (FN). In order to perform an NIRS calibration, the default protocol recommends starting by generating an initial equation based on at least 50-75 samples from the given species. Although this protocol optimises prediction accuracy, it limits the use of NIRS with rare or endangered species where sample sizes are often small. To overcome this limitation we tested a single NIRS equation (i.e., multispecies calibration) to predict FN in herbivores. Firstly, we used five herbivore species with highly contrasting digestive physiologies to build monospecies and multispecies calibrations, namely horse, sheep, Pyrenean chamois, red deer and European rabbit. Secondly, the equation accuracy was evaluated by two procedures using: (1) an external validation with samples from the same species, which were not used in the calibration process; and (2) samples from different ungulate species, specifically Alpine ibex, domestic goat, European mouflon, roe deer and cattle. The multispecies equation was highly accurate in terms of the coefficient of determination for calibration R2 = 0.98, standard error of validation SECV = 0.10, standard error of external validation SEP = 0.12, ratio of performance to deviation RPD = 5.3, and range error of prediction RER = 28.4. The accuracy of the multispecies equation to predict other herbivore species was also satisfactory (R2 > 0.86, SEP < 0.27, RPD > 2.6, and RER > 8.1). Lastly, the agreement between multi- and monospecies calibrations was also confirmed by the Bland-Altman method. In conclusion, our single multispecies equation can be used as a reliable, cost-effective, easy and powerful analytical method to assess FN in a wide range of herbivore species.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0176635PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409079PMC
September 2017

The physiological cost of male-biased parasitism in a nearly monomorphic mammal.

Parasit Vectors 2017 Apr 21;10(1):200. Epub 2017 Apr 21.

Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Wildlife Health Service, Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animal, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, E-08193, Bellaterra, Spain.

Background: Even though male-biased parasitism is common in mammals, little effort has been made to evaluate whether higher parasitic burden in males results in an extra biological cost, and thus a decrease in fitness. Body condition impairment and the augmentation of oxidative stress can be used as indicators of the cost of parasite infections. Here, we examined relationships between gastrointestinal and respiratory helminths, body condition and oxidative stress markers (glutathione peroxidase, paraoxonase-1) in 28 Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica) sampled in autumn.

Results: Only male chamois showed a reduction in body condition and higher oxidative stress due to parasite infection, likely because of the extremely high parasite burdens observed in males.

Conclusions: This study made evident a disparity in the physiological cost of multiple parasitism between sexes in a wild mammal, mainly due to parasitic richness. Because of the similar life expectancy in male and female chamois, we suggest that males may have developed natural mechanisms to compensate for higher parasite loads during the rut.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-2060-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5399856PMC
April 2017

Spatial and Temporal Phylogeny of Border Disease Virus in Pyrenean Chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica).

PLoS One 2016 29;11(12):e0168232. Epub 2016 Dec 29.

Centro di Ricerca Coordinata Epidemiologia e Sorveglianza Molecolare delle Infezioni-EpiSoMI, University of Milan, Milano, Italy.

Border disease virus (BDV) affects a wide range of ruminants worldwide, mainly domestic sheep and goat. Since 2001 several outbreaks of disease associated to BDV infection have been described in Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica) in Spain, France and Andorra. In order to reconstruct the most probable places of origin and pathways of dispersion of BDV among Pyrenean chamois, a phylogenetic analysis of 95 BDV 5'untranslated sequences has been performed on chamois and domestic ungulates, including novel sequences and retrieved from public databases, using a Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo method. Discrete and continuous space phylogeography have been applied on chamois sequences dataset, using centroid positions and latitude and longitude coordinates of the animals, respectively. The estimated mean evolutionary rate of BDV sequences was 2.9×10-3 subs/site/year (95% HPD: 1.5-4.6×10-3). All the Pyrenean chamois isolates clustered in a unique highly significant clade, that originated from BDV-4a ovine clade. The introduction from sheep (dated back to the early 90s) generated a founder effect on the chamois population and the most probable place of origin of Pyrenean chamois BDV was estimated at coordinates 42.42 N and 1.9 E. The pathways of virus dispersion showed two main routes: the first started on the early 90s of the past century with a westward direction and the second arise in Central Pyrenees. The virus spread westward for more than 125 km and southward for about 50km and the estimated epidemic diffusion rate was about 13.1 km/year (95% HPD 5.2-21.4 km/year). The strong spatial structure, with strains from a single locality segregating together in homogeneous groups, and the significant pathways of viral dispersion among the areas, allowed to reconstruct both events of infection in a single area and of migrations, occurring between neighboring areas.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0168232PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5199066PMC
July 2017

Absence of antibodies specific to Besnoitia spp. in European sheep and goats from areas in Spain where bovine besnoitiosis is endemic.

Parasitol Res 2017 Jan 4;116(1):445-448. Epub 2016 Nov 4.

SALUVET, Animal Health Department, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Complutense University of Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria s/n, 28040, Madrid, Spain.

Besnoitia besnoiti and B. caprae, which infect bovids (cattle and antelopes) and goats, respectively, are responsible for besnoitiosis, a chronic and debilitating disease. Bovine besnoitiosis is considered to be a reemerging disease in Central and Western Europe. In addition, infection by Besnoitia spp. has been reported in reindeer from Sweden and Finland. Recently, the parasite was also detected in roe deer and red deer from Spain, where an interconnection between the domestic and sylvatic cycles of B. besnoiti has been presumed. In contrast, caprine besnoitiosis seems to be enzootic to Kenya and Iran. The presence of Besnoitia spp. in small domestic ruminants has never been explored in Europe, and the role that these species might play in the epidemiology of bovine besnoitiosis, as intermediate hosts or reservoirs of B. besnoiti, remains unknown. Herein, the first serosurvey conducted in European sheep and goats from areas in Spain where bovine besnoitiosis is endemic is described. Convenience sampling was conducted of 1943 sheep and 342 goats close to cattle from the Pyrenees and Central Spain that were infected with endemic Besnoitia spp. Serum samples were first analyzed by ELISA and then by confirmatory Western blot. Specific antibodies were not found in any sampled animal. Thus, sheep are unlikely to play a role in the epidemiology of bovine besnoitiosis, at least in the sampled areas. A larger serosurvey is necessary to determine whether goats might be a putative reservoir. To confirm the results of this study, sheep and goats should be further studied in other European countries and regions where their numbers are high and where bovine besnoitiosis is spreading.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00436-016-5311-zDOI Listing
January 2017

Lead Poisoning Due to Lead-Pellet Ingestion in Griffon Vultures ( Gyps fulvus ) From the Iberian Peninsula.

J Avian Med Surg 2016 Sep;30(3):274-279

Avian scavengers that typically include game birds and mammals in their diets are at risk of lead poisoning from ingestion of carcasses with fragmented or residual lead ammunition that is used in hunting. Thus, lead may be one of the threats that the griffon vulture ( Gyps fulvus ) faces in the Iberian Peninsula and particularly in Portugal, where their conservation status is considered to be near-threatened. This is the first report that details 3 cases of lead poisoning, associated with the ingestion of lead shot, in adult female griffon vultures found in the Iberian Peninsula. The birds were found prostrate and immediately transferred to a wildlife rehabilitation center, where they died within 24 hours after supportive treatment. Necropsy and histopathologic examinations were done in 2 birds and metal analyses were done in all birds to determine the birds' causes of death. In one vulture, 9 uneroded lead pellets were recovered from the stomach, and moderate to severe hemosiderosis was seen histologically in the liver, lungs, and kidneys. Diagnosis of lead poisoning was confirmed by results of metal analyses, which revealed extremely high lead concentrations in blood (969-1384 μg/dL), liver (309-1077 μg/g dry weight), and kidneys (36-100 μg/g dry weight) for all 3 vultures. To prevent lead poisoning in vultures and preserve their populations in the Iberian Peninsula, more resources are needed for diagnosis and treatment of wildlife in rehabilitation centers, new regulations enabling the abandonment of fallen stock in the field must be approved, and lead ammunition must be prohibited in big-game hunting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1647/2014-051DOI Listing
September 2016

Oxidative Stress in Wild Boars Naturally and Experimentally Infected with Mycobacterium bovis.

PLoS One 2016;11(9):e0163971. Epub 2016 Sep 28.

Servei d´Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Spain.

Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS-RNS) are important defence substances involved in the immune response against pathogens. An excessive increase in ROS-RNS, however, can damage the organism causing oxidative stress (OS). The organism is able to neutralise OS by the production of antioxidant enzymes (AE); hence, tissue damage is the result of an imbalance between oxidant and antioxidant status. Though some work has been carried out in humans, there is a lack of information about the oxidant/antioxidant status in the presence of tuberculosis (TB) in wild reservoirs. In the Mediterranean Basin, wild boar (Sus scrofa) is the main reservoir of TB. Wild boar showing severe TB have an increased risk to Mycobacterium spp. shedding, leading to pathogen spreading and persistence. If OS is greater in these individuals, oxidant/antioxidant balance in TB-affected boars could be used as a biomarker of disease severity. The present work had a two-fold objective: i) to study the effects of bovine TB on different OS biomarkers (namely superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalasa (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPX), glutathione reductase (GR) and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS)) in wild boar experimentally challenged with Mycobacterium bovis, and ii) to explore the role of body weight, sex, population and season in explaining the observed variability of OS indicators in two populations of free-ranging wild boar where TB is common. For the first objective, a partial least squares regression (PLSR) approach was used whereas, recursive partitioning with regression tree models (RTM) were applied for the second. A negative relationship between antioxidant enzymes and bovine TB (the more severe lesions, the lower the concentration of antioxidant biomarkers) was observed in experimentally infected animals. The final PLSR model retained the GPX, SOD and GR biomarkers and showed that 17.6% of the observed variability of antioxidant capacity was significantly correlated with the PLSR X's component represented by both disease status and the age of boars. In the samples from free-ranging wild boar, however, the environmental factors were more relevant to the observed variability of the OS biomarkers than the TB itself. For each OS biomarker, each RTM was defined as a maximum by one node due to the population effect. Along the same lines, the ad hoc tree regression on boars from the population with a higher prevalence of severe TB confirmed that disease status was not the main factor explaining the observed variability in OS biomarkers. It was concluded that oxidative damage caused by TB is significant, but can only be detected in the absence of environmental variation in wild boar.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0163971PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5040450PMC
September 2016

Identification of a gammaherpesvirus belonging to the malignant catarrhal fever group of viruses in Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica).

Arch Virol 2016 Nov 17;161(11):3249-53. Epub 2016 Aug 17.

Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge, Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193, Bellaterra, Spain.

High prevalence (46 %) of a gammaherpesvirus was confirmed by molecular detection in the lungs of hunted Pyrenean chamois. The partial glycoprotein B sequence up to the DNA polymerase gene showed 96.6 % nucleotide sequence identity to the Rupicapra rupicapra gammaherpesvirus 1 and 81.5 % to ovine herpesvirus 2. This novel sequence clusters within sequences derived from the malignant catarrhal fever group of viruses, and the corresponding virus is tentatively named Rupicapra pyrenaica gammaherpesvirus 1 (RpHV-1). No specific histological lesions were associated with RpHV-1, nor were any detrimental effects on host health. The epidemiological, phylogenetic and histopathological results suggest that Pyrenean chamois is the natural host of RpHV-1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00705-016-3011-8DOI Listing
November 2016

Serological survey of Coxiella burnetii at the wildlife-livestock interface in the Eastern Pyrenees, Spain.

Acta Vet Scand 2016 Apr 27;58:26. Epub 2016 Apr 27.

Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge, Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193, Bellaterra, Spain.

Background: Coxiella burnetii is a zoonotic bacterium that infects a wide range of animal species and causes the disease Q fever. Both wild and domestic ruminants may be relevant in the epidemiology of C. burnetii infection. In order to investigate the significance of the ruminant host community in the alpine and subalpine ecosystems of the Eastern Pyrenees, Northeastern Spain, in the epidemiology of Q fever, a serological survey was performed on samples from 599 wild and 353 sympatric domestic ruminants.

Results: Specific antibodies against C. burnetii were detected with a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Domestic sheep showed the highest prevalence (12.7 %, CI 95 % 8.6-16.9), followed by European mouflon (Ovis orientalis musimon) with a 6.8 % prevalence (CI 95 % 1.6-12.1), red deer (Cervus elaphus) with 2.4 % (CI 95 % 0-5.6), and cattle with a prevalence of 1.1 % (CI 95 % 0-3.2). No positive domestic goats, fallow deer (Dama dama), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and Southern chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) were detected. Sheep flock prevalence was 75 % (nine of the 12 sheep flocks sampled were positive, within-flock prevalence ranging from 11.1 to 25.0 %), whereas cattle herd prevalence was 11.1 % (one out of the nine cattle herds sampled was positive, within-herd prevalence of 10.0 %.

Conclusions: Both domestic and wild ruminants from the alpine and subalpine ecosystems of the Eastern Pyrenees were exposed to C. burnetii. The higher seroprevalence in sheep and its relative abundance suggest that this species may have a major contribution to the ecology of C. burnetii. Conversely, wild ruminants do not seem to represent a relevant host community for C. burnetii maintenance in the Eastern Pyrenees.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13028-016-0209-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848809PMC
April 2016

Determination of fluoroquinolone antibiotic residues in the plasma of Eurasian griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) in Spain.

Sci Total Environ 2016 07 31;557-558:620-6. Epub 2016 Mar 31.

Department of Animal Science (Division of Wildlife), Faculty of Life Sciences and Engineering, University of Lleida, 25003 Lleida, Spain; Division of Conservation Biology, Institute of Ecology and Evolution. University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Due to the possible toxicological impact, the accumulation of pharmaceuticals in wildlife as a consequence of human practices is of growing concern. The consumption of carrion at feeding stations - the so-called 'vulture restaurants' - with no management of the veterinary drugs it contains may expose scavengers to pharmaceuticals. To demonstrate this, we analyzed plasma from Eurasian griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) originating from two different areas of Spain for antibiotics such as enrofloxacin and ciprofloxacin, its primary metabolite. Quinolone residues were detected in about 65% (n=106) of birds, of which 15.1% (16/106) had quantifiable amounts of enrofloxacin (0.049±0.102μg/mL) and 5.7% (6/106) of ciprofloxacin (0.009±0.007μg/mL). The differences in exposure between the two sampled areas are attributable to different types of carrion management: the vultures that fed in areas with a high density of dead livestock (supplied directly to feeding stations) were more prone to exposure than those that sought food in areas where carcass availability is more unpredictable. Our findings are evidence that vultures have access to medicated livestock and that there are quantifiable levels of livestock antibiotics in vulture plasma. However, the vultures analyzed in this study had maximum antibiotic concentrations of only 0.4μg/mL, much less than the concentrations used in the clinical treatment of scavengers and a level that is probably too small to cause intoxication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.083DOI Listing
July 2016