Long-term dynamics of Bluetongue virus in wild ruminants: Relationship with outbreaks in livestock in Spain, 2006-2011

Cristina Lorca-Oró, Jorge Ramón López-Olvera, Francisco Ruiz-Fons, Pelayo Acevedo, Ignacio García-Bocanegra, Álvaro Oleaga, Christian Gortázar, Joan Pujols

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Wild and domestic ruminants are susceptible to Bluetongue virus (BTV) infection. Three BTV serotypes (BTV-4, BTV-1 and BTV-8) have been detected in Spain in the last decade. Even though control strategies have been applied to livestock, BTV circulation has been frequently detected in wild ruminant populations in Spain. The aim of the present study is to assess the role for wild ruminants in maintaining BTV after the vaccination programs in livestock in mainland Spain. A total of 931 out 1,914 (48.6%) serum samples, collected from eight different wild ruminant species between 2006 and 2011, were BTV positive by ELISA. In order to detect specific antibodies against BTV-1, BTV-4 and BTV-8, positive sera were also tested by serumneutralisation test (SNT). From the ELISA positive samples that could be tested by SNT (687 out of 931), 292 (42.5%) showed neutralising antibodies against one or two BTV serotypes. For each BTV seroptype, the number of outbreaks in livestock (11,857 outbreaks in total) was modelled with pure autoregressive models and the resulting smoothed values, representing the predicted number of BTV outbreaks in livestock at municipality level, were positively correlated with BTV persistence in wild species. The strength of this relationship significantly decreased as red deer (Cervus elaphus) population abundance increased. In addition, BTV RNA was detected by real time RT-PCR in 32 out of 311 (10.3%) spleen samples from seropositive animals. Although BT outbreaks in livestock have decreased substantially after vaccination campaigns, our results indicated that wild ruminants have been exposed to BTV in territories where outbreaks in domestic animals occurred. The detection of BTV RNA and spatial association between BT outbreaks in livestock and BTV rates in red deer are consistent with the hypothesis of virus circulation and BTV maintenance within Iberian wild ruminant populations. © 2014 Lorca-Oró et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere100027
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2014


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