Interspecies Research Learns M.bovis Can Spread Through Body

CANADA – Scientists studying mycoplasma bovis in bison for the benefit of the cattle industry have learned that the disease can spread through a bison's body to the vital organs.
calendar icon 23 August 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

The M.bovis bacterium causes respiratory disease, polyarthritis and ear infections in cattle and particularly affects feedlot animals.

Experts predict the bison industry could lose $33 million and 13,000 animals if M.bovis is allowed to spread through the Canada.

Dr Pat Burrage of Burrage Veterinary Services has found that the disease can spread to reach the uterus, heart and kidneys in bison.

Her study showed that, across Alberta, 42 per cent of the 102 bison studied, died from M.bovis and survivors suffered with infertility and poor thrift.

“This wasn’t the first time M. bovis had shown to have an effect on bison, but the quantity of its effect surprised us,” said Dr Burrage.

The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency emphasised that bison and cattle often occupy the same areas and stated the importance of the research to both industries.

The next step is being led by Dr Claire Windeyer of the University of Calgary who will investigate virulence traits, epidemiology and the genomic sequences of the disease.

She hopes the study can reveal more about prevention, vaccines and interspecies transmission.

“Understanding how the pathogen affects both species is crucial, especially considering the devastating effects M. bovis can have once it enters a bison herd,” said Dr. Windeyer. “Producers need this information and the right strategies need to be in place in order to deal with current outbreaks and prevent future ones.”

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