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Experimental Inoculation of Broad-Nosed Caimans (Caiman latirostris) and Siamese Crocodiles (Crocodylus siamensis) with Mycoplasma alligatoris

Geoffrey W. Pye, Daniel R. Brown, Marcia F. Nogueira, Kent A. Vliet, Trenton R. Schoeb, Elliott R. Jacobson and R. Avery Bennett
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Vol. 32, No. 2 (Jun., 2001), pp. 196-201
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20096098
Page Count: 6
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Experimental Inoculation of Broad-Nosed Caimans (Caiman latirostris) and Siamese Crocodiles (Crocodylus siamensis) with Mycoplasma alligatoris
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Abstract

An outbreak of mycoplasmosis caused by Mycoplasma alligatoris resulted in the death or euthanasia of 60 American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) from a population of 74 captive bull alligators in Florida in 1995. The natural reservoir, routes of transmission, and host range of M. alligatoris are unknown. This study was undertaken to determine whether crocodilian species other than American alligators are susceptible to M. alligatoris. Six broad-nosed caimans (Caiman latirostris) and six Siamese crocodiles (Crocodylus siamensis) were experimentally inoculated with 10⁶ colony forming units (CFU) of M. alligatoris instilled through the glottis. Two caimans and two crocodiles were used as negative controls. Six and four American alligators were used as positive and negative controls, respectively. Three of six (50%) inoculated caimans died within 10 wk postinoculation (PI) of severe mycoplasmosis. Gross necropsy, histopathologic, and culture results were similar for broad-nosed caimans and American alligators. None of the inoculated Siamese crocodiles developed mycoplasmosis, though M. alligatoris was isolated from the tonsils in three of six (50%) animals at necropsy. All the inoculated crocodilians that survived showed significant seroconversion by 6-8-wk PI (P < 0.05). The infective dose 50% ($\text{ID}_{50}$) and lethal dose 50% ($\text{LD}_{50}$) of M. alligatoris for the broad-nosed caiman are 10⁶ CFU when instilled through the glottis, which is similar to that of the American alligator. Although the host range of M. alligatoris is not restricted to the American alligator, the organism does not appear to be pathogenic for Siamese crocodiles. Other species of crocodilians may be susceptible to infection with M. alligatoris, and this organism should be considered when the rapid onset of clinical signs of pneumonia, polyarthritis, pericarditis, and death occur.

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