[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) caused by Mycoplasma conjunctivae is a widespread ocular affection
of free-ranging Caprinae in the Alpine arc. Along with host and pathogen characteristics, it has been hypothesized that environmental factors such as UV light are involved in the onset and course of the disease. This study aimed at evaluating the role of topographic features as predisposing or aggravating factors for IKC in Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra rupicapra) and Alpine ibex (Capra ibex ibex). Geospatial analysis was performed to assess the effect of aspect (northness) and elevation on the severity of the disease as well as on the mycoplasmal load in the eyes of affected animals, using data from 723 ibex and chamois (583 healthy animals, 105 IKC-affected animals, and 35 asymptomatic carriers of M. conjunctivae), all sampled in the Swiss Alps between 2008 and 2010. An influence of northness was not found, except that ibex with moderate and severe signs of IKC seem to prefer more north-oriented slopes than individuals without corneal lesions, possibly hinting at a sunlight sensitivity consequent to the disease. In contrast, results suggest that elevation influences the disease course in both ibex and chamois, which could be due to altitude-associated environmental conditions such as UV radiation, cold, and dryness. The results of this study support the hypothesis that environmental factors may play a role in the pathogenesis of IKC.
European Journal of Wildlife Research 07/2012; 58(5):869-874. · 1.36 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycoplasma conjunctivae, the causative agent of infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC), was recently detected in asymptomatic Alpine ibex (Capra ibex ibex). This suggested that an external source of infection may not be required for an IKC outbreak in wildlife but might be initiated by healthy carriers, which contradicted previous serologic investigations in chamois. Our aims were to 1) assess the prevalence of M. conjunctivae among asymptomatic ibex and Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra rupicapra) and its frequency in IKC-affected animals, 2) determine mycoplasma loads in different disease stages, and 3) characterize the M. conjunctivae strains involved. Eye swabs from 654 asymptomatic and 204 symptomatic animals were collected in diverse Swiss regions between 2008 and 2010, and tested by TaqMan real-time PCR. Data analysis was performed considering various patterns of IKC occurrence in the respective sampling regions. Strains from 24 animals were compared by cluster analysis. Prevalence of M. conjunctivae was 5.6% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.7-8.1%) in asymptomatic ibex and 5.8% (CI: 3.0-9.9%) in asymptomatic chamois, with significant differences between years and regions in both species. Detection frequency in symptomatic animals was significantly higher during IKC outbreaks than in nonepidemic situations (i.e., regular but low incidence or sporadic occurrence). Mycoplasma load was significantly lower in eyes from healthy carriers and animals with mild signs than from animals with moderate and severe signs. Although some strains were found in both asymptomatic and diseased animals of the same species, others apparently differed in their pathogenic potential depending on the infected species. Overall, we found a widespread occurrence of M. conjunctivae in wild Caprinae with and without IKC signs. Our results confirm the central role of M. conjunctivae in outbreaks but suggest that other infectious agents may be involved in IKC cases in nonepidemic situations. Additionally, presence and severity of signs are related to the quantity of M. conjunctivae in the eyes rather than to the strain. We propose that individual or environmental factors influence the clinical expression of the disease and that persistence of M. conjunctivae in populations of wild Caprinae cannot be excluded.
Journal of wildlife diseases 07/2012; 48(3):619-31. · 1.27 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An ongoing canine distemper epidemic was first detected in Switzerland in the spring of 2009. Compared to previous local canine distemper outbreaks, it was characterized by unusually high morbidity and mortality, rapid spread over the country, and susceptibility of several wild carnivores species. Here, the authors describe the associated pathologic changes and phylogenetic and biological features of multiple highly virulent canine distemper virus (CDV) strain detected in and/or isolated from red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), Eurasian badgers (Meles meles), stone (Martes foina) and pine (Martes martes) martens, from a Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and a domestic dog. The main lesions included interstitial to bronchointerstitial pneumonia and meningopolioencephalitis, whereas demyelination-the classic presentation of CDV infection-was observed in few cases only. In the brain lesions, viral inclusions were mainly in the nuclei of the neurons. Some significant differences in brain and lung lesions were observed between foxes and mustelids. Swiss CDV isolates stemmed together with a Hungarian CDV strain detected in 2004. In vitro analysis of the hemagglutinin protein from one of the Swiss CDV strain revealed functional and structural differences from that of the reference strain A75/17, with the Swiss strain showing increased surface expression and binding efficiency to the signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM). These features might be part of a novel molecular signature, which might have contributed to an increase in virus pathogenicity, partially explaining the high morbidity and mortality, the rapid spread, and the large host spectrum observed in this outbreak.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because interactions between livestock and chamois occur on Alpine pastures, transmission of infectious diseases is considered possible. Thus, the occurrence of Chlamydiaceae, Mycoplasma conjunctivae, and pestiviruses in Alpine chamois (Rupicapra r. rupicapra) of the Surselva region (eastern Swiss Alps) was investigated. In total, 71 sera, 158 eye swabs, 135 tissue samples, and 23 fecal samples from 85 chamois were analyzed. The sera were tested by 2 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits specific for Chlamydophila abortus. Eye swabs, tissue, and fecal samples were examined by a Chlamydiaceae-specific real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Positive cases were further investigated by microarray method. One serum sample (1.4%) was positive in 1 of the ELISAs. Eye swabs of 3 chamois (3.8%) were positive for Chlamydiaceae. The microarray method revealed the presence of Chlamydophila abortus, C. pecorum, and C. pneumoniae. All tissue and fecal samples were negative. With real-time PCR, 3.9% of the chamois tested positive for Mycoplasma conjunctivae. One chamois had a simultaneous infection with M. conjunctivae and 2 chlamydial species (C. abortus, C. pecorum). Skin and tongue tissue samples of 35 chamois were negative for pestivirus antigen by immunohistochemistry. It was concluded that in contrast to the findings in Pyrenean chamois (Capra p. pyrenaica) of Spain, the occurrence of Chlamydiaceae in Alpine chamois of the Surselva region is low, and the transmission between domestic and wild Caprinae seems not to be frequent. Comparably, persistent pestiviral infections do not seem to be common in chamois of the Surselva region.
Journal of veterinary diagnostic investigation: official publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Inc 03/2011; 23(2):333-7. · 1.18 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chlamydophila (C.) abortus is the most common infectious abortigenic agent in small domestic ruminants in Switzerland. In contrast, the knowledge about
chlamydiae in wild ruminants is scarce. As interactions between livestock and Alpine ibex (Capra i. ibex) occur on alpine pastures, the question raises if wild ruminants could play a role as carriers of chlamydiae. Thus, we investigated
the prevalence of chlamydiae in Alpine ibex in Switzerland. In total, 624 sera, 676 eye swabs, 84 organ samples and 51 faecal
samples from 664 ibex were investigated. Serum samples were tested by two commercial ELISA kits specific for C. abortus. Eye swabs, organs and faecal samples were examined by a Chlamydiaceae-specific real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Positive cases were further investigated by the ArrayTube (AT) microarray
method for chlamydial species determination. Of 624 serum samples investigated, 612 animals were negative, whereas nine sera
(1.5%) reacted positively in one of the two tests and three sera showed an inconclusive result. Eye swabs of seven out of
412 ibex (1.7%) were tested positive for Chlamydiaceae by real-time PCR. By AT microarray, Chlamydophila (C.) pecorum was identified in two animals, Chlamydophila (C.) pneumoniae was detected in one animal and a mixed infection with C. abortus and C. pecorum was found in four animals. Organs and faecal samples were all negative by real-time PCR analysis. In summary, we conclude
that C. abortus is not a common infectious agent in the Swiss ibex population. To our knowledge, this is the first description of C. pneumoniae in ibex. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the situation in other species of wild ruminants as chamois (Rupicapra r. rupicapra), red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus c. capreolus) in Switzerland.
–Abortigenic agent–Interactions between wildlife and domestic ruminants
European Journal of Wildlife Research 01/2010; 57(2):233-240. · 1.36 Impact Factor