© 2018 Elsevier B.V. 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; r2 = 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.
- disease transmission
- external ear canal
- Iberian ibex
- Infectious Keratoconjunctivitis