Open Access Open Badges Research article

Spatial distribution and risk factors of Brucellosis in Iberian wild ungulates

Pilar M Muñoz12, Mariana Boadella3*, Maricruz Arnal4, María J de Miguel1, Miguel Revilla4, David Martínez4, Joaquín Vicente3, Pelayo Acevedo5, Álvaro Oleaga36, Francisco Ruiz-Fons7, Clara M Marín1, José M Prieto6, José de la Fuente38, Marta Barral7, Montserrat Barberán4, Daniel Fernández de Luco4, José M Blasco1 and Christian Gortázar3

Author Affiliations

1 Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria del Gobierno de Aragón (CITA). Montañana, 930 50059, Zaragoza. Spain

2 Instituto de Agrobiotecnología CSIC-UPNA-Gobierno de Navarra, 31192 Mutilva Baja, Spain

3 IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM). Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain

4 Departamento de Patología Animal de la Universidad de Zaragoza. Miguel Servet, 177 50013, Zaragoza, Spain

5 Biogeography, Diversity, and Conservation Research Team, Animal Biology, Department of Sciences, University of Malaga, E-29071 Málaga, Spain

6 SERIDA, Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario, Laboratorio de Sanidad Animal, 33299 Jove, Gijón, Spain

7 NEIKER-TECNALIA, Inst Vasco Invest & Desarrollo Agrario, Dpt Anim Hlth, Bizkaia 48160, Spain

8 Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:46  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-46

Published: 5 March 2010



The role of wildlife as a brucellosis reservoir for humans and domestic livestock remains to be properly established. The aim of this work was to determine the aetiology, apparent prevalence, spatial distribution and risk factors for brucellosis transmission in several Iberian wild ungulates.


A multi-species indirect immunosorbent assay (iELISA) using Brucella S-LPS antigen was developed. In several regions having brucellosis in livestock, individual serum samples were taken between 1999 and 2009 from 2,579 wild bovids, 6,448 wild cervids and4,454 Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa), and tested to assess brucellosis apparent prevalence. Strains isolated from wild boar were characterized to identify the presence of markers shared with the strains isolated from domestic pigs.


Mean apparent prevalence below 0.5% was identified in chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica), Iberian wild goat (Capra pyrenaica), and red deer (Cervus elaphus). Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), fallow deer (Dama dama), mouflon (Ovis aries) and Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) tested were seronegative. Only one red deer and one Iberian wild goat resulted positive in culture, isolating B. abortus biovar 1 and B. melitensis biovar 1, respectively. Apparent prevalence in wild boar ranged from 25% to 46% in the different regions studied, with the highest figures detected in South-Central Spain. The probability of wild boar being positive in the iELISA was also affected by age, age-by-sex interaction, sampling month, and the density of outdoor domestic pigs. A total of 104 bacterial isolates were obtained from wild boar, being all identified as B. suis biovar 2. DNA polymorphisms were similar to those found in domestic pigs.


In conclusion, brucellosis in wild boar is widespread in the Iberian Peninsula, thus representing an important threat for domestic pigs. By contrast, wild ruminants were not identified as a significant brucellosis reservoir for livestock.