Dynamics of an Infectious Keratoconjunctivitis Outbreak by Mycoplasma conjunctivae on Pyrenean Chamois Rupicapra p. pyrenaica

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Abstract

Between 2006 and 2008, an outbreak of Infectious Keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) affected Pyrenean chamois Rupicapra p. pyrenaica, an endemic subspecies of mountain ungulate that lives in the Pyrenees. The study focused on 14 mountain massifs (180,000 ha) where the species' population is stable. Cases of IKC were detected in ten of the massifs and, in five of them, mortality was substantial. The outbreak spread quickly from the first location detected, with two peaks in mortality that affected one (2007) and three (2008) massifs. In the latter, the peak was seasonal (spring to autumn) and, in the former, the outbreak persisted through winter. To identify the outbreak's aetiology, we examined 105 Pyrenean chamois clinically affected with IKC. TaqMan rt-PCR identified Mycoplasma conjunctivae in 93 (88.5%) of the chamois. Another rt-PCR detected Chlamydophila spp. in 14 of chamois, and 12 of those had mixed infections with mycoplasmas. In the period 2000-2007, the chamois population increased slightly (λ 1.026) but decreased significantly during the IKC outbreak (λ 0.8, 2007-2008; λ 0.85, 2008-2009) before increasing significantly after the outbreak (λ 1.1, 2009-2010). Sex-biased mortality shifted the adult sex ratio toward males (from 0.6 to 0.7 males per female) and reduced productivity slightly. Hunting was practically banned in the massifs where chamois experienced significant mortality and allowed again after the outbreak ended. Long-term monitoring of wild populations provides a basis for understanding the impacts of disease outbreaks and improves management decisions, particularly when species are subject to extractive exploitation. © 2013 Arnal et al.

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Arnal, M. C., Herrero, J., de la Fe, C., Revilla, M., Prada, C., Martínez-Durán, D., … de Luco, D. F. (2013). Dynamics of an Infectious Keratoconjunctivitis Outbreak by Mycoplasma conjunctivae on Pyrenean Chamois Rupicapra p. pyrenaica. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0061887

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