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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2006 Jan;18(1):29-40.

Naturally occurring Mycoplasma bovis-associated pneumonia and polyarthritis in feedlot beef calves.

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  • 1Departments of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, Canada.


Mycoplasma bovis is perceived as an emerging cause of mortality in feedlot beef cattle. This study examined the lesions and infectious agents in naturally occurring M. bovis-associated bronchopneumonia and arthritis and the relationship of this condition with bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) infection. Standardized pathologic, immunohistochemical, and microbiologic investigations were conducted on 99 calves that died or were euthanized within 60 days after arrival in 72 feedlots. Cranioventral bronchopneumonia with multiple foci of caseous necrosis was identified in 54 of 99 calves, including 30 with concurrent fibrinosuppurative bronchopneumonia typical of pneumonic pasteurellosis. Mycoplasma bovis was consistently identified in these lesions by culture and immunohistochemistry, but also commonly in healthy lungs and those with pneumonia of other causes. Focal lesions of coagulation necrosis, typical of pneumonic pasteurellosis, were often infected with both Mannheimia haemolytica and M. bovis. Arthritis was present in 25 of 54 (46%) calves with M. bovis pneumonia, and all calves with arthritis had pneumonia. BVDV infection was more common in calves with lesions of bacterial pneumonia than in those dying of other causes, but BVDV infection was not more common in calves with caseonecrotic bronchopneumonia than those with fibrinosuppurative bronchopneumonia. Retrospective analysis identified cases of M. bovis pneumonia in the early 1980s that had milder lesions than the current cases. The findings suggest that, in at least some calves, M. bovis induces caseonecrotic bronchopneumonia within the lesions of pneumonic pasteurellosis.

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