Mycoplasmas are the smallest free-living microorganisms capable of autoreplication. They are highly fastidious, difficult to culture, and slow growing.
Mycoplasmas are thought to be part of the normal bacterial flora in the upper respiratory tract in dogs
Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:
- Mycoplasma cynos
- Mycoplasma canis
- Mycoplasma haemocanis
- Mycoplasma haematoparvum
- Mycoplasma bovigenitalium
- Mycoplasma edwardii
- Mycoplasma feliminutum
- Mycoplasma gateae
- Mycoplasma spumans
- Mycoplasma haemobos
- Mycoplasma haemominutum
These hemoplasms are commonly associated with kennel cough, although primary and aspiration pneumonia and granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis have been reported consequent as primary infections by this organism.
Clinical infections can range from asymptomatic infections to the induction of a severe immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, especially in splenectomised or immunocompromised dogs. Epididymitis and prostatitis have also been reported.
The overall importance and distribution of M. cynos, its mechanisms of pathogenicity, and the nature of the immune response to this pathogen are currently unknown. The capacity of M. cynos to persist in the environment is unknown, but other Mycoplasma species can survive for weeks to months outside the host, and the environment could therefore be a source of infection.
Diagnosis usually requires ELISA or PCR assays for definitive diagnosis and it can be performed noninvasively with nasal swabs. However, multiple PCR assays may be required because of the large number of Mycoplasma species. Bacterial culture has been the best method for diagnosing a bacterial infection, however the sensitivity of the culture-isolation for Mycoplasma spp is low.
Most mycoplasma are sensitive to tetracycline, choramphenicol, tylosin or erythromycin.
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