The transmission of pestiviruses between domestic and wild ruminants has not been documented in communal alpine pastures shared between wildlife and livestock. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of domestic and wild ungulates species from Varaita Valley (SW Italian Alps) in the epidemiology of Pestivirus infections. Sera from free-ranging alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) were collected from 1994 to 2009 and 2001 to 2009, respectively. Also, sera from cattle and sheep sampled in 2009 were studied. Sera were tested for the presence of antibodies against pestivirus with an ELISA assay. Sera from positive animals were subsequently tested with a comparative virus neutralisation test using the BVDV-NADL and BDV-137/4 strains. Sera were tested for the presence of pestiviral antigen and the presence of viral RNA with a commercial ELISA assay and RT-PCR. Antibodies against Pestivirus were detected in 132 out of 312 (42%) chamois, in 30 out of 175 (17%) cattle and 6 out of 24 (25%) sheep. No antibodies were found in roe deer. No Pestivirus antigen or RNA was detected in any of the samples. Results indicate circulation of pestiviruses among the studied chamois, cattle and sheep populations. However the role of wild ungulates in the dynamics of Pestivirus infection is still unknown and monitoring the presence of these viruses in wild ungulates would be of importance, especially in the chamois population, where pestiviruses seem to circulate extensively. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
- Roe deer