Wolf (Canis lupus) as canine adenovirus type 1 (CAdV-1) sentinel for the endangered cantabrian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos).
Canine adenovirus type 1 (CAdV-1) causes infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) and has recently been described as a cause of death among endangered populations of European brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) in the Cantabrian mountain range in Asturias, Spain. Sympatric wild and domestic carnivores can act as reservoirs of the virus and likely spread it into the environment and subsequently transmit it to brown bears. The present work investigates the prevalence and geo-temporal distribution of CAdV-1 among free-ranging wolves (Canis lupus) in Asturias from 2009 to 2018, during which three fatal cases of ICH were reported among brown bears in the region. A total of 149 wolves were analysed in this study, of which 21 (14%) were found to have CAdV-1 DNA based on real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of spleen samples. Prevalence of the virus was similar between males and females. All but one of the 20 CAdV-1-positive animals of estimable age were younger than 2 years, and only one of the 46 adult animals (>2 years) tested positive. Prevalence was highest in the western area of Asturias and during 2010 and 2011. Our results confirm that CAdV-1 is circulating in Asturian free-ranging wolves, supporting their possible role as virus reservoirs and sentinels in the region of this emerging disease in brown bears.