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Onderstepoort J Vet Res. 1995 Mar;62(1):45-9.

Mycoplasma-associated polyarthritis in farmed crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) in Zimbabwe.

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Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Zimbabwe, Harare.


Outbreaks of polyarthritis in farmed crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) on five farms in Zimbabwe are described. Cases were reported only among the rearing stock aged 1-3 years. No breeding stock suffered. Morbidity was about 10% and the mortality even lower. All the sick animals consistently displayed swollen limb joints as well as progressive lameness and paresis. The synovial structures in subacute cases contained mycoplasmas and excess turbid mucus which, at a later stage of the disease, became yellowish, inspissated and sterile. Cellular changes in the joint capsule included oedema, necrosis of the superficial layers of membrane, lymphocytic infiltration and fibrosis. Evidence of pneumonia was observed only at necropsies. Fifteen isolates of Mycoplasma were cultured from the clinical specimens collected from the four sick and three dead crocodiles. The affected joints of all these animals yielded Mycoplasma in pure culture, but the culture from lungs yielded post-mortem invaders also. The sick animals were treated with a single intramuscular injection of long-acting tetracycline (10 mg/kg), and oxytetracycline mixed in feed at 550 mg/kg was fed for 10 d. The treatment appeared to be effective in ameliorating the clinical signs, but in some cases inflammatory swelling persisted. All 15 the isolates conformed to the characteristics of the genus Mycoplasma, and were serologically indistinguishable in growth-inhibition (Gl) tests. Although these isolates shared the main biochemical characteristics of Mycoplasma capricolum, they differed serologically. Also goats were refractory to experimental infection with crocodile strains. In crocodile yearlings, however, the disease was reproduced with an isolate from one of the affected farms. The source of infection remained elusive.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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