In the early 2000s, several colonies of Alpine ibex (Capra ibex ibex) in Switzerland ceased growing or began to decrease. Reproductive problems due to infections with abortive agents might have negatively affected recruitment. We assessed the presence of selected agents of abortion in Alpine ibex by serologic, molecular, and culture techniques and evaluated whether infection with these agents might have affected population densities. Blood and fecal samples were collected from 651 ibex in 14 colonies throughout the Swiss Alps between 2006 and 2008. All samples were negative for Salmonella spp., Neospora caninum, and Bovine Herpesvirus-1. Antibodies to Coxiella burnetii, Leptospira spp., Chlamydophila abortus, Toxoplasma gondii, and Bovine Viral Diarrhea virus were detected in at least one ibex. Positive serologic results for Brucella spp. likely were false. Overall, 73 samples (11.2%) were antibody-positive for at least one abortive agent. Prevalence was highest for Leptospira spp. (7.9%, 95% CI=5.0–11.7). The low prevalences and the absence of significant differences between colonies with opposite population trends suggest these pathogens do not play a significant role in the population dynamics of Swiss ibex. Alpine ibex do not seem to be a reservoir for these abortive agents or an important source of infection for domestic livestock in Switzerland. Finally, although interactions on summer pastures occur frequently, spillover from infected livestock to free-ranging ibex apparently is uncommon.
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Vol. 47 • No. 3