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N Z Vet J. 2003 Aug;51(4):186-90.

Detection of Mycoplasma conjunctivae in sheep affected with conjunctivitis and infectious keratoconjunctivitis.

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National Centre for Disease Investigation, PO Box 40-742, Upper Hutt, New Zealand.



To determine the aetiology of a recurring and severe form of infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC) in sheep.


Five sheep flocks that had experienced a severe form of IKC were examined. Clinical history, conjunctival swabs and blood samples were collected from affected animals. Culture for bacteria, and also specifically for Mycoplasma and Chlamydophila spp, and detection of Mycoplasma conjunctivae DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were attempted. Serum samples were tested for antibodies to M. agalactiae, M. capricolum, M. conjunctivae and Chlamydophila spp.


Mycoplasma conjunctivae DNA was detected using PCR in 3/5 flocks, and in all flocks antibodies to M. conjunctivae were detected in sera. A pure growth of Branhamella ovis was cultured from conjunctival swabs from a small proportion of sheep in two flocks. No other pathogens were detected.


This investigation demonstrated that M. conjunctivae was a primary pathogen causing severe IKC in sheep, and is the first report of detection of this organism in sheep in New Zealand. Introduction of clinically normal carrier sheep appeared to have caused the outbreaks.

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