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Comp Med. 2004 Jun;54(3):309-17.

Characterization of a Mycobacterium ulcerans-like infection in a colony of African tropical clawed frogs (Xenopus tropicalis).

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


A nontuberculous Mycobacterium ulcerans-like organism was identified as the causative agent of an epizootic of mycobacteriosis in a colony of African tropical clawed frogs, Xenopus (Silurana) tropicalis, at the University of California, Berkeley. Diverse clinical signs of disease were observed, including lethargy, excess buoyancy, coelomic effusion, cutaneous ulcers, and granulomas. Visceral granulomas, ulcerative and granulomatous dermatitis, coelomitis, and septicemia were common findings at necropsy. Identification of M. ulcerans-like organisms was based on molecular and phenotypical characteristics. The findings of this investigation indicate that this M. ulcerans-like organism is a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in aquatic anurans and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of coelomic effusion in amphibians. Furthermore, if this Mycobacterium species ultimately is identified as M. ulcerans, X. tropicalis should be considered a potential source of this important public health pathogen.

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