The European hare (Lepus europaeus) as a potential wild reservoir for ruminant pestiviruses

A. Colom-Cadena, O. Cabezón, R. Rosell, X. Fernández-Aguilar, B. Blanch-Lázaro, E. Tetas, S. Lavín, I. Marco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier B.V. Ruminant pestiviruses cause important economic losses in livestock and the epidemiological role of free-ranging sympatric wildlife is of special interest for the implementation of pestivirus eradication plans. Moreover, the emergence of high mortality outbreaks of pestivirus in Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica) since 2001 in the border between Spain and France has increased the value of knowing the hosts that role pestivirus infection. In the present study, pestivirus infection was assessed in 94 sera from wild hunted European hares (Lepus europaeus) collected in two different areas: Pyrenees (alpine and subalpine ecosystems) versus Non Pyrenees (non alpine and subalpine ecosystems). The presence of antibodies against Border Disease Virus (BDV) and Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) was evaluated by means of the Virus Neutralization Test and the presence of viral RNA in sera samples was assessed by Reverse transcription‐polymerase chain reaction (RT‐PCR). A total of 34 out of 94 (36.2%; CI95 0.26–0.46) sera presented neutralizing antibodies against ruminant pestiviruses, and significant differences between BDV4 and BVDV1 titres were found in 7 hares. In the Pyrenean area not statistically significant seroprevalence was observed when comparing with the Non Pyrenean area. RT-PCR analysis of sera samples resulted all negative. The results of the present study indicate that the European hare is susceptible to pestivirus infection and that could be involved in the epidemiology of ruminant pestiviruses. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the third wild non-artiodactyl with reported antibodies against ruminant pestivirus after the rabbit and Bennet's wallaby.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-63
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Border disease
  • Bovine viral diarrhea
  • Lepus europaeus
  • Pestivirus
  • Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica
  • Wildlife


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