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ABSTRACT: In 1995, the hitherto Sarcoptes-free alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) of the Dolomite Alps (Italy) were affected by scabies for the first time after the spread of the disease from a neighbouring
focus in Austria. Since then, four Agencies cooperated to warrant monitoring of the spatial and temporal progress of the outbreak
and further active surveillance was carried out within an intensive study area. In ten years, 15 meta-populations numbering
10,000 chamois and 210,000ha were encompassed with a maximum distance of 55km from the index case. “Oil spot” advancement
of the epidemic was observed together with “jumps” of 9 to 20km followed by spreading of the infection to the intervening
population units. Demographic decline of the four meta-populations so far affected for a minimum of six years ranged between
49 and 77% (x = 62.5 ±13.5x = 62.5 \pm 13.5), whereas similar post-epidemic densities of 1.1 to 1.7 heads/100ha (x = 1.5 ±0.27x = 1.5 \pm 0.27) were recorded. Contiguous resistant and sensitive herds with similar pre-epidemic density were detected on a smaller population
scale, suggesting complementary mechanisms intervening besides density-dependence as determinants of the outbreak outcome.
No sex or age class showed a higher sensitivity to scabies out of a sample of 1,696 infected chamois. A peak prevalence of
free-ranging chamois bearing overt scabietic lesions was observed in January and February. Cases were only sporadically diagnosed
in other sympatrc wild ruminants (Cervus elaphus, Capreolus capreolus and Ovis gmelini musimon), whereas all four alpine ibex (Capra ibex ibex) herds living in the surveyed area suffered from scabies-induced decline.
European Journal of Wildlife Research 05/2006; 53(2):131-141. DOI:10.1007/s10344-006-0067-x · 1.63 Impact Factor