Publications by authors named "Xavier Fernández-Aguilar"

31 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

Endemic occurrence of Fasciola hepatica in an alpine ecosystem, Pyrenees, Northeastern Spain.

Transbound Emerg Dis 2020 Oct 4. Epub 2020 Oct 4.

Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie, Università di Torino, Torino, Italy.

Fasciola hepatica is a liver parasite of ruminants whose distribution is determined by its intermediate host, the freshwater snail Galba truncatula. In Europe, F. hepatica is mostly associated with lowlands. Infection from sympatric domestic reservoirs is rarely reported in wild mountain ungulates. This study explores F. hepatica in a multi-host system in a European alpine area. Serum samples (n = 1,209) from Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica), European mouflon (Ovis aries musimon), domestic sheep (Ovis aries) and domestic cattle (Bos taurus) were collected in the National Game Reserve of Freser-Setcases (NGRFS) in Catalonia, Northeastern Spain, from 2008 to 2019, and tested for antibodies against F. hepatica. During the same period, the livers of 214 chamois hunted in the NGRFS were inspected for F. hepatica and associated pathological changes. Finally, 907 freshwater snails were collected in summer 2016 between 1559 and 2,224 metres above sea level (asl) in the NGRFS, and F. hepatica DNA sought by PCR. Antibodies against F. hepatica were detected in all four species, with a higher prevalence in cattle and sheep than in chamois. Fasciola hepatica and hepatic lesions were concurrently observed in 13/214 of the chamois livers inspected (6.1%, CI95 2.9%-9.3%). Fasciola hepatica DNA was detected in one out of the 907 snails (0.1%, Cl95 0.1% - 0.3%; Ct value 33.3) and collected at 2054 m asl. Fasciola hepatica was consistently detected in a high mountain multi-host system, suggesting that its life cycle is completed and that it occurs endemically at the highest elevation reported in Europe. Transhumant livestock are the likely source in this alpine ecosystem, which according to rare occurrence of F. hepatica DNA in G. truncatula is still a suboptimal habitat for F. hepatica life cycle. Studying parasites at their highest distribution range can be useful to monitor climate change in seasonal mountain environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tbed.13865DOI Listing
October 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

Peste des Petits Ruminants at the Wildlife-Livestock Interface in the Northern Albertine Rift and Nile Basin, East Africa.

Viruses 2020 03 7;12(3). Epub 2020 Mar 7.

Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, London NW1 0TU, UK, (M.B.).

In the recent past, peste des petits ruminants (PPR) emerged in East Africa causing outbreaks in small livestock across different countries, with evidences of spillover to wildlife. In order to understand better PPR at the wildlife-livestock interface, we investigated patterns of peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV) exposure, disease outbreaks, and viral sequences in the northern Albertine Rift. PPRV antibodies indicated a widespread exposure in apparently healthy wildlife from South Sudan (2013) and Uganda (2015, 2017). African buffaloes and Uganda kobs <1-year-old from Queen Elizabeth National Park (2015) had antibodies against PPRV N-antigen and local serosurvey captured a subsequent spread of PPRV in livestock. Outbreaks with PPR-like syndrome in sheep and goats were recorded around the Greater Virunga Landscape in Kasese (2016), Kisoro and Kabale (2017) from western Uganda, and in North Kivu (2017) from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This landscape would not be considered typical for PPR persistence as it is a mixed forest-savannah ecosystem with mostly sedentary livestock. PPRV sequences from DRC (2017) were identical to strains from Burundi (2018) and confirmed a transboundary spread of PPRV. Our results indicate an epidemiological linkage between epizootic cycles in livestock and exposure in wildlife, denoting the importance of PPR surveillance on wild artiodactyls for both conservation and eradication programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v12030293DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7150925PMC
March 2020

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

Mycoplasma conjunctivae in insect vectors and anatomic locations related to transmission and persistence.

Vet Microbiol 2019 Jan 12;228:7-11. Epub 2018 Nov 12.

Wildlife Ecology & Health Group - Servei d' Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra 08193, Spain; UAB, Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA, IRTA-UAB), Campus de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra 08193, Spain.

Mycoplasma conjunctivae is an obligate microparasite that causes Infectious Keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) in Caprinae species. IKC is a long-recognised disease, but little attention has been paid to the mechanisms of transmission of the mycoplasma and its occurrence in locations other than the eyes. In this study, the presence of M. conjunctivae is assessed in the eyes, external ear canals (EEC), nasal cavity, and vagina of host species as well as in potential vectors, which may be involved in the transmission and persistence of infection within the host. M. conjunctivae was detected by qPCR in 7.2 % (CI 95% 4.7-11.0) of the ear swabs and 9.5 % (CI 95% 6.4-13.9) of the nasal swabs from Pyrenean chamois, Iberian ibex, domestic sheep and mouflon without statistical differences between species. Mycoplasma detection in nasal swabs was mostly associated with ocular infection (95.6%), but this was not the case for EEC (52.6%). Among the eye-positive ruminants, 27.3% were positive in ear swabs and 64.7% in nasal swabs, and the threshold cycle values of the qPCR were correlated only between eye and nasal swabs (p < 0.01; r = 0.56). M. conjunctivae was detected in 1.7% - 7.1 % of Musca spp. captured during an IKC outbreak in Iberian ibex and in one out of three endemic sheep flocks. The results indicate that the transmission of M. conjunctivae may occur by direct contact with eye or nasal secretions and/or indirectly through flies. The M. conjunctivae DNA detection in EEC suggests that it can colonise the auditory tract, but the significance for its persistence within the host should be further assessed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2018.11.004DOI Listing
January 2019

PPR virus threatens wildlife conservation.

Science 2018 10;362(6411):165-166

Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY 10460, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aav4096DOI Listing
October 2018

Tracking Toxoplasma gondii in freshwater ecosystems: interaction with the invasive American mink (Neovison vison) in Spain.

Parasitol Res 2018 Jul 21;117(7):2275-2281. Epub 2018 May 21.

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

Water-borne transmission may play an important role in the epidemiology of Toxoplasma gondii. Mammals closely related to freshwater ecosystems, such as the American mink (Neovison vison), are potentially valuable sentinels for T. gondii. To assess the importance of freshwater ecosystems in T. gondii epidemiology, sera of 678 American minks collected during the 2010 to 2015 Spanish national eradication campaigns were tested for the presence of T. gondii antibodies using the modified agglutination test (MAT, cut-off 1:25). A high prevalence of samples, 78.8% (CI: 75.5-81.8), were seropositive. In addition, a specific real-time PCR was performed in 120 brain samples and the parasite DNA was detected in 9.2% (CI: 5.2-15.7). Significant differences in seroprevalence were detected among bioregions, with the highest levels detected in coastal areas, and by age. The higher seroprevalence observed in older animals (80.0% adults versus 68.7% juveniles) confirms the importance of the horizontal transmission. These results indicate a widespread presence of T. gondii oocysts in freshwater ecosystems from Spain and further support the importance of water-borne transmission in the epidemiology of T. gondii.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00436-018-5916-5DOI Listing
July 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

New insights on pestivirus infections in transhumant sheep and sympatric Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica).

Vet Microbiol 2018 Apr 9;217:82-89. Epub 2018 Mar 9.

Wildlife Ecology & Health Group (WE&H) and Servei d'Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), 08193 Bellaterra, Spain.

Border Disease Virus (BDV) causes health and economic impact on livestock and is also of importance in wildlife conservation as it causes high mortality outbreaks in Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica). Pastoral practices are known as a main interspecies pathogen transmission. Hence, the presence of pestivirus in transhumant sheep flocks and sympatric chamois was assessed in areas with different epidemiological scenarios of chamois BDV infections. Moreover, the present study had also the goal to identify if inter-specific infections occurred and when they happened. Five sheep flocks grazing in two alpine areas in the Pyrenees with two different BDV epidemiological scenarios in chamois populations were studied during two transhumant seasons. Sheep were sampled before and after transhumance. Pyrenean chamois sera and spleen samples from both areas where also studied during the same period. Antibodies against BDV were assessed by means of ELISA and VNT. A qRT-PCR was used in order to detect the virus. Seroprevalence in sheep ranged between 0 and 91.1% at the flock level. Chamois were found to have high seroprevalences (52.9-77.7%) in both areas, and four new BDV isolates were sequenced. One sheep farm presented persistent BDV circulation and three showed low BDV circulation. The after-transhumance period was identified as the moment when viral transmission occured in the first farm, associated to BDV strains of domestic origin, according to VNT results. However, the BDV isolate was genetical closely related to previous BDV strains from chamois origin. In another farm, antibodies in two of the three positive sera were associated to infection with a chamois-like BDV strain. Altogether indicates that occasional viral transmission from chamois to sheep may occur.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2018.03.003DOI Listing
April 2018

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

Infectious keratoconjunctivitis and occurrence of and Chlamydiaceae in small domestic ruminants from Central Karakoram, Pakistan.

Vet Rec 2017 Sep 1;181(9):237. Epub 2017 Aug 1.

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

Infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) is a contagious eye disease primarily caused by in domestic and wild Caprinae. species have also been detected in ruminants with IKC. The objectives of this study are to investigate the ocular infection of and Chlamydiaceae and assess its interaction in relation to IKC in sheep and goats from remote communities around the Central Karakoram National Park in Pakistan, performing a combination of cross-sectional and case-control study design. Mostly asymptomatic and endemic infections of and Chlamydiaceae were found in sheep (19.3 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively) and goats (9.5 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively) from all communities, assessed by qPCR. Prevalence significantly differed between species only for (P=0.0184), which was also more prevalent in younger sheep (P<0.01). was identified by sequencing and was related with IKC only when coinfection with occurred, which suggest a synergic interaction. Cluster analysis of strains revealed higher diversity of strains than expected, evidenced interspecific transmission and suggested a higher local livestock trade than previously assumed. These results highlight the widespread occurrence of in sheep worldwide and its implications for wildlife should be assessed from a conservation perspective.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/vr.103948DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5738590PMC
September 2017

Postepizootic Persistence of Asymptomatic Mycoplasma conjunctivae Infection in Iberian Ibex.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2017 08 17;83(15). Epub 2017 Jul 17.

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

The susceptibility of the Iberian ibex () to ocular infection and the changes in their interaction over time were studied in terms of clinical outcome, molecular detection, and IgG immune response in a captive population that underwent a severe infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) outbreak. was detected in the Iberian ibex, coinciding with the IKC outbreak. Its prevalence had a decreasing trend in 2013 that was consistent with the clinical resolution (August, 35.4%; September, 8.7%; November, 4.3%). Infections without clinical outcome were, however, still detected in the last handling in November. Sequencing and cluster analyses of the strains found 1 year later in the ibex population confirmed the persistence of the same strain lineage that caused the IKC outbreak but with a high prevalence (75.3%) of mostly asymptomatic infections and with lower DNA load of in the eyes (mean quantitative PCR [qPCR] cycle threshold [ ], 36.1 versus 20.3 in severe IKC). Significant age-related differences of prevalence were observed only under IKC epizootic conditions. No substantial effect of systemic IgG on DNA in the eye was evidenced with a linear mixed-models selection, which indicated that systemic IgG does not necessarily drive the resolution of infection and does not explain the epidemiological changes observed. The results show how both epidemiological scenarios, i.e., severe IKC outbreak and mostly asymptomatic infections, can consecutively occur by entailing mycoplasma persistence. infections are reported in a wide range of epidemiological scenarios that involve severe disease to asymptomatic infections. This study allows a better understanding of the transition between two different epidemiological scenarios described in wild host populations and highlights the ability of to adapt, persist, and establish diverse interactions with its hosts. The proportion of asymptomatic and clinical infections in a host population may not be regarded only in response to intrinsic host species traits (i.e., susceptibility) but also to a specific host-pathogen interaction, which in turn influences the infection dynamics. Both epidemic infectious keratoconjunctivitis and a high prevalence of asymptomatic infections may occur in the same host population, depending on the circulation of , its maintenance, and the progression of the host-pathogen interactions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00690-17DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5514678PMC
August 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

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

Foetal death in naive heifers inoculated with Neospora caninum isolate Nc-Spain7 at 110 days of pregnancy.

Exp Parasitol 2016 Sep 5;168:62-9. Epub 2016 Jul 5.

Departament de Producció Animal, Universitat de Lleida, Agrotecnio Center, Lleida, Spain.

Neospora caninum infection is a leading cause of abortion in cattle worldwide. The pathogenesis of bovine neosporosis, particularly during the second term of gestation when most abortions occur in naturally infected dams, is poorly understood. In the present study foetal death was observed in 3 of 6 experimentally infected dams at 110 days of gestation after 6 weeks of experimental period. All experimental heifers were febrile between 3 and 5 days post infection (dpi). Inoculated dams seroconverted by 3-4 weeks post-infection with higher mean antibody titres in aborting dams compared to non-aborting heifers, although not significantly (p > 0.05). Neospora caninum DNA was detected in all infected foetuses and placentas, and three infected foetuses also had N. caninum antibodies. The parasite burden was higher in the brain of dead/aborted foetuses than in live foetuses. Interestingly, high IFN-γ production was detected in foetal fluids of a dead foetus found upon euthanasia of its dam, while no IFN-γ was observed in amniotic, allantoic and/or foetal fluids in the three infected foetuses that were alive upon maternal euthanasia. The present study confirms that the infection of dams on gestation day 110 with 10(7) tachyzoites of the Nc-Spain7 isolate causes abortion. The fact that some infected dams aborted and some did not is relevant to the understanding of N. caninum pathogenesis of abortion in naturally infected cows.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exppara.2016.06.009DOI Listing
September 2016

Heterogeneous road networks have no apparent effect on the genetic structure of small mammal populations.

Sci Total Environ 2016 Sep 21;565:706-713. Epub 2016 May 21.

Departamento de Biología de la Conservación, Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC), Calle Américo Vespucio s/n, E-41092 Sevilla, Spain. Electronic address:

Roads are widely recognized to represent a barrier to individual movements and, conversely, verges can act as potential corridors for the dispersal of many small mammals. Both barrier and corridor effects should generate a clear spatial pattern in genetic structure. Nevertheless, the effect of roads on the genetic structure of small mammal populations still remains unclear. In this study, we examine the barrier effect that different road types (4-lane highway, 2-lane roads and single-lane unpaved roads) may have on the population genetic structure of three species differing in relevant life history traits: southern water vole Arvicola sapidus, the Mediterranean pine vole Microtus duodecimcostatus and the Algerian mouse Mus spretus. We also examine the corridor effect of highway verges on the Mediterranean pine vole and the Algerian mouse. We analysed the population structure through pairwise estimates of FST among subpopulations bisected by roads, identified genetic clusters through Bayesian assignment approaches, and used simple and partial Mantel tests to evaluate the relative barrier or corridor effect of roads. No strong evidences were found for an effect of roads on population structure of these three species. The barrier effect of roads seems to be site-specific and no corridor effect of verges was found for the pine vole and Algerian mouse populations. The lack of consistent results among species and for each road type lead us to believe that the ability of individual dispersers to use those crossing structures or the habitat quality in the highway verges may have a relatively higher influence on gene flow among populations than the presence of crossing structures per se. Further research should include microhabitat analysis and the estimates of species abundance to understand the mechanisms that underlie the genetic structure observed at some sites.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.05.074DOI Listing
September 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

Toxoplasma gondii Infection in Seagull Chicks Is Related to the Consumption of Freshwater Food Resources.

PLoS One 2016 14;11(3):e0150249. Epub 2016 Mar 14.

Departament de Sanitat i d'Anatomia Animals, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.

Understanding the spread of Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) in wild birds, particularly in those with opportunistic feeding behavior, is of interest for elucidating the epidemiological involvement of these birds in the maintenance and dissemination of the parasite. Overall, from 2009 to 2011, we collected sera from 525 seagull chicks (Yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) and Audouin's gull (L. audouinii)) from 6 breeding colonies in Spain and tested them using the modified agglutination test (MAT) for the presence of antibodies against T. gondii. Chick age was estimated from bill length. Main food source of seagull chicks was evaluated using stable isotope analyses from growing scapular feathers. Overall T. gondii seroprevalence was 21.0% (IC95% 17.5-24.4). A generalized linear mixed-effects model indicated that year (2009) and food source (freshwater) were risk factors associated to the individual risk of infection by T. gondii, while age (days) was close to significance. Freshwater food origin was related to the highest seroprevalence levels, followed by marine origin, supporting freshwater and sewages as important routes of dispersion of T. gondii. Year differences could indicate fluctuating rates of exposure of seagull chicks to T. gondii. Age ranged from 4 to 30 days and seropositivity tended to increase with age (P = 0.07), supporting that seropositivity is related to T. gondii infection rather than to maternal transfer of antibodies, which in gulls is known to sharply decrease with chick age. This study is the first to report T. gondii antibodies in Yellow-legged and Audouin's gulls, thereby extending the range of intermediate hosts for this parasite and underscoring the complexity of its epidemiology.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0150249PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4790883PMC
August 2016

Coprological tests underestimate Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus burden in wild boar.

Parasitol Res 2016 May 14;115(5):2103-5. Epub 2016 Mar 14.

Departament de Sanitat i d'Anatomia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.

The present study evaluated the limitations of the coprological sedimentation test to assess Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus infestation in 59 wild boars (Sus scrofa) from central Spain. The coprological sedimentation test appeared to be a poor predictor of both prevalence of infestation and the real parasite burden due to the high number of false negative results (prevalence was reduced from 61 to 16 %). Because of the potential increased risk of this zoonosis, it is suggested that alternative techniques be used in wildlife surveillance programmes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00436-016-4976-7DOI Listing
May 2016

Border Disease Virus: An Exceptional Driver of Chamois Populations Among Other Threats.

Front Microbiol 2015 18;6:1307. Epub 2015 Dec 18.

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

Though it is accepted that emerging infectious diseases are a threat to planet biodiversity, little information exists about their role as drivers of species extinction. Populations are also affected by natural catastrophes and other pathogens, making it difficult to estimate the particular impact of emerging infectious diseases. Border disease virus genogroup 4 (BDV-4) caused a previously unreported decrease in populations of Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica) in Spain. Using a population viability analysis, we compared probabilities of extinction of a virtual chamois population affected by winter conditions, density dependence, keratoconjunctivitis, sarcoptic mange, and BD outbreaks. BD-affected populations showed double risk of becoming extinct in 50 years, confirming the exceptional ability of this virus to drive chamois populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2015.01307DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4683209PMC
January 2016

Male-biased gastrointestinal parasitism in a nearly monomorphic mountain ungulate.

Parasit Vectors 2015 Mar 18;8:165. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

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

Background: Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica) is a nearly monomorphic mountain ungulate with an unbiased sex-specific overwinter adult survival. Few differences in gastrointestinal parasitism have been reported by coprology as yet. This study aims to assess diversity, prevalence, intensity of infection and aggregation of gastrointestinal nematodes in male and female adult chamois. We expect no differences in the parasite infection rates between sexes.

Findings: Gastrointestinal tracts of 28 harvested Pyrenean chamois in the Catalan Pyrenees (autumn 2012 and 2013) were necropsied and sexual differences in the diversity and structure of parasite community, prevalence, intensity of infection, and richness were investigated. We found 25 helminth species belonging to 13 different genera.

Conclusions: Contrary to our expectations, male chamois showed different parasite communities, higher prevalence, intensity of infection and richness than females. Such sexual differences were clear irrespective of age of individuals. Hence, male chamois must cope with a more diverse and abundant parasite community than females, without apparent biological cost. Further research will be required to confirm this hypothesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-015-0774-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4408582PMC
March 2015

Uses and limitations of faecal egg count for assessing worm burden in wild boars.

Vet Parasitol 2015 Apr 16;209(1-2):133-7. Epub 2015 Feb 16.

Servei d́Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge (SEFaS), Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain; CESAM, Departamento de Biologia, Universidade de Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal.

The most widely used technique to assess helminth infection in both domestic and wild mammals is the faecal egg count (FEC). Most efforts to test the reliability of FEC as a proxy for parasite load are in small ruminant studies and limited work has evaluated the use of FEC in pigs. The aim of this study was to explore whether FEC is a reliable indicator of helminth load, and to evaluate the effects of sample storage on FEC accuracy in 59 wild boars. Though FEC was useful for assessing most helminth infections (e.g., Metastrongylus spp., Ascaris suum, Trichuris suis), stomach nematodes were often missed. The accuracy of FEC decreased over time, and thus it is recommended that samples be processed within 5 days of collection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2015.02.006DOI Listing
April 2015

Effect of perphenazine enanthate in Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica).

J Zoo Wildl Med 2013 Dec;44(4):1083-5

Departament de Ciència Animal i dels Aliments, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193-Bellaterra, Spain.

Perphenazine enanthate was used to allow adaptation to captivity in 11 Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica). At the time of capture, all animals received 0.10 mg/kg of acepromazine maleate and 2.5 mg/kg of perphenazine enanthate intramuscularly. The effect was evaluated by means of three behaviors: alertness, defecation, and flight distance. The tranquilization and lack of fear of humans of all animals were determined and the usefulness of this long-acting tranquilizer for chamois adaptation to captivity was confirmed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1638/2012-0272R.1DOI Listing
December 2013

Mycoplasma conjunctivae in domestic small ruminants from high mountain habitats in Northern Spain.

BMC Vet Res 2013 Dec 13;9:253. Epub 2013 Dec 13.

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

Background: Infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) is a clinical condition affecting eyes of domestic and wild Caprinae worldwide, and Mycoplasma conjunctivae is considered the primary causative agent of IKC in sheep, goats and wild Caprinae. Domestic ruminants from high mountain habitats share grazing areas with wild mountain ungulates, such as chamois (Rupicapra spp.), Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) and European mouflon (Ovis aries musimon), and domestic sheep seem to act as M. conjunctivae reservoir. In this study, the presence of M. conjunctivae in domestic sheep and goats from the two main mountain ranges of Northern Spain, the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian Mountains, has been investigated.

Results: Eye swabs were obtained from 439 domestic small ruminants selected from flocks that seasonally graze in alpine meadows during three consecutive years (2011-2012-2013). Seventy-nine out of the 378 domestic sheep (20.9%) tested positive to a M. conjunctivae specific real time-PCR (rt-PCR) in at least one eye, whereas all the 61 sampled domestic goats were negative. Statistically significant higher prevalence and higher proportion of infected flocks (P < 0.001) was observed in the Pyrenees (25.7%; 12 flocks out of 13), where M. conjunctivae is widespread and probably endemic in domestic sheep, than in the Cantabrian Mountains (7.8%; one flock out of six). Twenty-five sheep (three from the Pyrenees and 22 from the Cantabrian Mountains) which showed clinical signs consistent with infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) were negative by rt-PCR. In contrast, 62 out of the 71 (87.3%) M. conjunctivae-positive sheep from the Pyrenees and the eight positive sheep from the Cantabrian Mountains were asymptomatic.

Conclusions: This study provides rt-PCR-based evidences of M. conjunctivae maintenance in domestic sheep, as well as a relationship between prevalence in domestic sheep and previously reported M. conjunctivae and IKC in wild ruminants. Domestic goats do not seem to play an important role in the epidemiology of M. conjunctivae in alpine habitats from Northern Spain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1746-6148-9-253DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3883482PMC
December 2013