European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 285–291 | Cite as

A serological survey of common feline pathogens in free-living European wildcats (Felis silvestris) in central Spain

  • Javier Millán
  • Alejandro Rodríguez
Original Paper


Twenty-five serum samples of 22 free-living European wildcats (Felis silvestris) captured from 1991 to 1993 in central Spain were tested for evidence of exposure to seven feline pathogens. All the wildcats but one (95.4%) presented evidence of contact with at least one of the agents (mean = 2.2). Contact with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) was detected in 81% of the wildcats (antibodies, 77%; antigen p27, 15%). Antibodies to feline calicivirus (FCV, 80%), feline herpesvirus (FHV, 20%), feline parvovirus (FPV, 18%), and Chlamydophila sp. (27%) were also detected. Analyses were negative for feline immunodeficiency virus and feline coronavirus. The probability of having antibodies to FPV was inversely related with the concentration of serum cholesterol and with a morphometric index of body condition. Similarity in the composition of antibodies against disease agents (number and identity of detected and undetected antibodies) was significantly higher in pairs of female wildcats than in pairs of males or heterosexual pairs, suggesting that females had a more homogeneous exposure to pathogens. Seroprevalence for FHV was higher in males than in females. Antibodies to FHV and Chlamydophila sp. were more frequent in winter than in other seasons. In addition, the mean similarity of the pathogen community between pairs of serum samples was higher if both wildcats were caught during the same season than if they were not. Mean similarity was lowest when serum samples obtained in winter were compared with those from spring or summer. The results suggest that some agents probably had a reservoir in domestic cats and may cause some undetected morbidity/mortality in the studied wildcat population, whereas others, such as FeLV and FCV, may be enzootic.


Felid Feline leukemia Feline respiratory disease Seasonality Serology 



J. Nicolás Guzmán and Giulia Crema assisted with wildcat trapping and sample collection. We thank Amparo Gomis at INAC (Ciudad Real, Spain) for performing biochemical analyses, J. Manuel Pérez de la Lastra at IREC (Ciudad Real, Spain) for laboratory assistance during sera analyses, and Jacques Delbecque (Ingenasa) and Silvia Simón (Eurovet Veterinaria S.L.) for information and advice about immunoassay performance. Field work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Transportation, and lab work as well as manuscript preparation was funded by grants from Junta de Andalucía to A. Rodríguez. The trapping and sampling protocol followed the Spanish laws of animal welfare in scientific research (Real Decreto 1201/2005).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fundació Natura ParcSanta Eugènia (Balearic Islands)Spain
  2. 2.Department of Conservation BiologyEstación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC)SevillaSpain

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