Survivaland replication of Mycoplasma species in recycled bedding sand and associationwith mastitis on dairy farms in Utah

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Journal of Dairy Science







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Mycoplasma spp., usually Mycoplasma bovis, are important bovine pathogens that can cause mastitis, metritis, pneumonia, and arthritis. The currently documented routes of transmission of Mycoplasma spp. are through contaminated milking equipment and by direct animal contact. The existence of environmental sources for Mycoplasma spp. and their role in transmission and clinical disease is poorly characterized. Mycoplasma spp. (confirmed as M. bovis in 2 of 4 samples tested using PCR) was found in recycled bedding sand originating from a dairy experiencing an outbreak of clinical mycoplasma mastitis. Mycoplasma spp. were subsequently found in bedding sand from 2 other dairies whose bulk-tank milk was mycoplasma-positive. The association between the occurrence of Mycoplasma spp. in recycled bedding sand and mycoplasma mastitis in cows was further investigated using a pile of recycled sand from dairy 1. Study objectives included the determination of factors associated with the concentration of Mycoplasma spp. in recycled bedding sand and the duration of survival of mycoplasmas in the sand. We also evaluated the efficacy of 2 disinfectants at 2 different concentrations each for the elimination of Mycoplasma spp. from contaminated sand. Mycoplasma spp. survived in the sand pile for 8 mo. The concentration of Mycoplasma spp. within the sand pile was directly related to temperature and precipitation. It was also positively associated with the growth of gram-negative microorganisms, suggesting the possibility of the formation of a biofilm. Ideal temperatures for replication of Mycoplasmaspp. occurred between 15 and 20°C. Moisture in the sand and movement of the sand pile also appeared to play a role in replication of mycoplasmas. We found that 0.5% sodium hypochlorite or 2% chlorhexidine were efficacious in eliminating Mycoplasma spp. from contaminated bedding sand. Recycled bedding sand could be an environmental source of Mycoplasma spp., including M. bovis, infections in dairy cows. Future studies should investigate the contribution of this environmental source to the epidemiology of mycoplasma infections in dairy cattle.


J Dy Sci 93:1:192-202, 2010. Article highlighted in Dairy Herd Management. Mycoplasma can survive in recycled sand. 2/1/2010 electronic publication: