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Vet Microbiol. 2013 Jun 28;164(3-4):299-306. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2013.02.007. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Emergence, re-emergence, spread and host species crossing of Mycoplasma bovis in the Austrian Alps caused by a single endemic strain.

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Division of Clinical Microbiology and Infection Biology, Institute of Bacteriology, Mycology and Hygiene (IBMH), Department of Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria.


Mycoplasma (M.) bovis was identified and reported in Austria as agent of infection and disease in cattle only once, namely in 2005 associated with a case of mastitis in a smallholding, but in 2007 it unexpectedly emerged as the cause of a devastating disease outbreak in a dairy herd of 100 individuals and spill over infection to pigs, both kept on the same mountain pasture. In 2008, M. bovis remained endemic at a low level in this region followed by the re-emergence of the agent in 2009 and a dramatic spread of the disease to further Alpine areas and their foothills in 2010 and 2011. From these outbreaks, a total of 94 M. bovis isolates including 7 porcine isolates were selected for genotyping. Two molecular tools, randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis and multi-locus variable number of tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) were chosen to identify strain types involved in these outbreaks and to trace routes of infection and dynamics of dissemination. With both typing methods, the majority of Alpine isolates (96.8%) recovered over time from different areas and hosts was clustered into one group exhibiting a unique and indistinguishable profile which significantly differed from those of geographically unrelated strains including the type strain PG45 and 3 Alpine isolates which suddenly appeared and disappeared in 2009. Stability of the unique profile strongly indicated that a single M. bovis strain initiated the outbreak in 2007, crossed the host species barrier by infecting pigs, re-emerged in 2009 and became widespread in the Austrian Alps in 2010 and 2011. The remarkable dissemination and persistence of a single and unique M. bovis strain may reflect peculiarities of dairy management practices in the Alps based on Alpine transhumance and cooperative use of mountain pastures. As the source of the outbreak strain remains unknown, the findings of this study underscore the importance of continuous surveillance by monitoring further spread and persistence of M. bovis infections for effective control to minimize losses in Alpine dairy farming.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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