Risk of Mycoplasma bovis transmission from contaminated sand bedding to naivedairy calves

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Journal of Dairy Science







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The objective of this study was to evaluate the possible transmission of Mycoplasma bovis from positive sand bedding to naïve dairy calves. Twelve preweaned Holstein bull calves were blocked in pairs and randomly assigned as unexposed controls (n = 6) bedded with control sand, or exposed calves (n = 6) bedded with sand previously positive for M. bovis at a dairy farm. Bedding sand was cultured weekly. Nasal and ear swabs and sera were collected weekly, tracheal swabs were collected monthly, and by the end of the 105-d study, all calves were euthanized (n = 10) or died (n = 2). Sera were tested for M. bovis-specific antibody. Mycoplasma spp. culture was performed on nasal and ear swabs; culture and a PCR differentiating multiple Mycoplasma spp. were performed on postmortem samples of lung, retropharyngeal lymph node, and trachea from each calf. A complete necropsy also was performed. During 6 wk, mycoplasma concentration in exposed group sand was between 200 and 32,000 cfu/g. All 166 tracheal swabs, nasal and ear swabs, and postmortem tests from all calves were negative for mycoplasma. All 94 sera were negative for M. bovis-specific antibody. No gross pathology suggestive of mycoplasma disease was detected. The probability of mycoplasma detection, if an exposed calf had become infected 4 wk after exposure, ranged between 97 and 99% depending on time of exposure for individual calves. There was no evidence that sand bedding contaminated with M. bovis might serve as a source of transmission to naïve dairy calves.


J Dy Sci 94:3:1318-1324, 2011