A serological survey of respiratory virus infections was carried out from 1998 to 2001 in Lecco province, Italy, as part of a health monitoring programme in a population of alpine chamois, many of which died of pneumonia in autumn and winter 2000 to 2001; 194 carcases of all age classes were found over a short period and in a small area. Eighteen of them, which were examined postmortem, consistently showed signs of severe fibrinous lobar pneumonia or catarrhal bronchopneumonia. Samples of serum from 145 chamois collected from hunted animals and carcases were tested by a virus neutralisation test against bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRsv), bovine viral diarrhoea virus, bovine herpesvirus type 1 and parainfluenzavirus type 3. Positive results were detected only for BRSV. The area was divided into two subunits on the basis of the distribution of deaths; in the areas where fatalities were observed there was a significant increase of BRSV titres at the beginning of the outbreal. Furthermore, during the 2000 and 2001 hunting seasons antibody titres to BRSV were significantly higher in the areas where mortality occurred. The roe deer living in the same area were not affected by pneumonia and had a low prevalence of titres to BRSV which did not vary during the period of the study.
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