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Vet Microbiol. 2009 Feb 2;133(4):366-71. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2008.07.015. Epub 2008 Aug 5.

Mannheimia haemolytica serotype A1 exhibits differential pathogenicity in two related species, Ovis canadensis and Ovis aries.

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Department of Microbiology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6610, USA.


Mannheimia haemolytica causes pneumonia in both bighorn sheep (BHS, Ovis canadensis) and domestic sheep (DS, Ovis aries). Under experimental conditions, co-pasturing of BHS and DS results in fatal pneumonia in BHS. It is conceivable that certain serotypes of M. haemolytica carried by DS are non-pathogenic to them, but lethal for BHS. M. haemolytica serotypes A1 and A2 are carried by DS in the nasopharynx. However, it is the serotype A2 that predominantly causes pneumonia in DS. The objectives of this study were to determine whether serotype A1 exhibits differential pathogenicity to BHS and DS, and to determine whether leukotoxin (Lkt) secreted by this organism is its primary virulence factor. Three groups each of BHS and DS were intra-tracheally administered either 1 x 10(9)cfu of serotype A1 wild-type (lktA-Wt group), Lkt-deletion mutant of serotype A1-(lktA-Mt group), or saline (control group), respectively. In the lktA-Wt groups, all four BHS died within 48h while none of the DS died during the 2-week study period. In the lktA-Mt groups, none of the BHS or DS died. In the control groups, one DS died due to an unrelated cause. Necropsy and histopathological findings revealed that death of BHS in the lktA-Wt group was due to bilateral, fibrinohemorrhagic pneumonia. Although the A1-Mt-inoculated BHS were clinically normal, on necropsy, lungs of two BHS showed varying degrees of mild chronic pneumonia. These results indicate that M. haemolytica serotype A1 is non-pathogenic to DS, but highly lethal to BHS, and that Lkt is the primary virulence factor of M. haemolytica.

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