A virus threatens Pyrenean rebels

It is not difficult to see the Sarrians in the Pyrenees, more than 1,500 meters.

The sarrio is one of the symbols of the Pyrenean fauna. Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica is the name of the Pyrenean group, but the species extends from the Cantabrian Cordillera to the Caucasus. Only 25,000 inhabitants live in the Pyrenees and, although it is horrible, it is not difficult to see them in mountains of more than two thousand meters. However, in recent times the Pyrenean population is declining, especially in the east. The main suspect is a virus that causes the death of the most frequent.

According to data provided by the environmental department of Catalonia in July, the census of the Cerdanya-Alt Urgell sarries has decreased by 85.6% in the last year. In fact, last year there were 563 occasions in this territory and this year only 81. It has also been censored in the French area, where 76% of the population has been lost. Further east, in the Cadí-Moixeró reserve, disturbing data have been collected. While last year there were 2,363 occasions, now there are only 1,565. This means the death of a third of the regulars in the territory.

The continuity of the Pyrenees means that there is a high risk of disease expansion throughout the mountain range.

Scientists from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, together with those from Andorra and France, analyze the cause of death. Apparently, the agent is a virus that affects the massive. The first traces of the virus took place in 2001. It was then that the first massacres were killed in Alt
Pallars. At first they did not know what the agent was, and that was the first job: to identify the aggressor.

In the study of identification of the virus also participated NEIKER, Basque Institute of Agricultural Research and Development. Then they saw that it was from the pestivirus family, from the same family as the virus that causes the classic pig plague. Viruses in this family also affect ruminant animals, and it is very similar to the sheep virus that attacks the massive.

The ovine virus causes serious reproductive problems, such as abortions and congenital malformations. Sarrio brings viruses to death. In the opinion of Ana Hurtado, of NEIKER, “being so lethal in the rebecos means being new to the most frequent, since they did not know each other before, they had no defense. Therefore, animals are unprotected from the virus.”

The virus causes animals to die.

The virus affects the mucous membranes and leaves the sarrios totally weakened, lose the hair, have an excessive pigmentation in the skin... In the end they die. According to Ignasi Marco of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, “we cannot show that the virus is the only cause of deaths, but studies seem to indicate that there is a direct relationship between the virus and the fall of the sarrios”.

The conclusion is totally worrying. Since the virus is transmitted by air, it is practically impossible to take preventive measures. There is no anti-virus vaccine, “and how to vaccinate these animals living on rocks?” Ignasi Marco believes that there is a great risk of spreading the epidemic because “the Pyrenean mountain range is a mountain range, has no cuts and lives frequently”.

The plague has made the first outbreak to the east, but at any time it can change trends and come to the west. Just in case, those responsible for all the Pyrenean territories are attentive and scientists work together adding strength. The situation is not peaceful.

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