Respiratory disease and otitis were seen on a northern Italian farm in weaned bulls obtained from multiple sources. Mycoplasma bovis was consistently identified in nasal swabs, tonsil, ears, eyes and lung samples from affected animals. Unusually the closely related Mycoplasma agalactiae, the main cause of contagious agalactia (CA) in small ruminants, was also isolated. It was identified by molecular methods in bulls but only from eye, ear and brain samples. Outbreaks were reduced by retaining the bulls on their original farms for weaning, then moving them directly to the fattening areas on the farm. This prevented the spread of mycoplasma from infected to uninfected calves from different sources. As no small ruminants were within close proximity and the area is free of CA, it is possible that M agalactiae may be more prevalent in cattle than previously thought.
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Acknowledgement The authors are grateful for the help of the Animal and Plant Health Agency, UK, for their confirmation of the identity of some of the isolates in this work.
Contributors SC is the leader of the project responsible for planning of the work and writing the first drafts of the paper. FG performed animal inspections, supervised the diagnostic tests and analysed results. ES carried out the diagnostic tests and provided advice. and RAJN provided consultancy and completed writing the paper.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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