Infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) caused by Mycoplasma conjunctivae is a highly contagious ocular infection which is common in domestic sheep and goats. In the European Alps, IKC is often observed in Alpine chamois (Rupicapra r. rupicapra) and in Alpine ibex (Capra i. ibex), but the disease has also been described in other wild Caprinae in the Pyrenees and in New Zealand. The infection is characterised by inflammation of the conjunctiva and cornea, and in the most advanced stages, the cornea is opaque or even perforated. In IKC outbreaks in chamois and ibex, spontaneous recovery is the most prevalent outcome of the disease. However, mortality can occasionally reach 30%. Recent studies in eastern Switzerland indicated that M. conjunctivae infection is not self-maintained in chamois. In contrast, the disease is endemic and self-maintained in the domestic sheep population. Spillover of the agent from sheep living in proximity during summer may be the origin of point-source epidemics in wild Caprinae.

Flies are likely to play a central role in interspecific transmission of M. conjunctivae on alpine meadows. When outbreaks of IKC occur in wildlife, a special effort should be made to avoid unnecessary human disturbance in affected areas. However, animals presenting irreversible ocular lesions should be shot by professional gamekeepers to prevent suffering. Prevention of IKC in wild Caprinae should focus on preventing the spillover of M. conjunctivae from livestock. However, studies are required to evaluate the distribution of M. conjunctivae infection in domestic sheep in several countries and to assess the risk of IKC spillover from domestic animals to wildlife. In addition, immunological studies should be performed to develop tools which could lead to the control of M. conjunctivae infection in domestic sheep.