Point prevalence of infection with Mycoplasma bovoculi and Moraxella spp. in cattle at different stages of infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis
Infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) has significant economic consequences and a detrimental impact on animal welfare. Although Moraxella (Mor.) bovis is the primary causative agent, the role of other bacteria, such as Mor. ovis, Mor. bovoculi and Mycoplasma (Myc.) bovoculi, is not well understood. To assess the prevalence of infection with these organisms, and to correlate this with outbreaks of IBK, conjunctival samples from four herds of cattle in Germany of differing IBK status were examined. Herds were selected to represent a hypothetical course of IBK ranging from the pre-outbreak stage (herd 1), to the acute disease stage (herd 2), to a stage where treatment had ceased (herd 3). Unaffected animals were also included (herd 4). To facilitate effective, sensitive sample analysis, a new real-time PCR for Myc. bovoculi was developed and used in concert with established real-time PCR protocols for Myc. bovis and Moraxella spp. Herds 1 and 2 showed similarly high rates of detection for Myc. bovoculi (92.5% and 84.0%, respectively), whereas herds 3 and 4 had a lower prevalence (35.5% and 26.2%, respectively). Mor. bovis and Mor. ovis were more prevalent in herd 1 (32.5% and 87.5%, respectively) and herd 2 (38% and 58%, respectively) than herd 3 (10.4% and 1.3%, respectively) and herd 4 (9.8% and 31.1%, respectively). Mor. bovoculi was the only pathogen that correlated with clinical signs of IBK; at 20% prevalence, it was almost exclusively detected in herd 2. The results indicate that herds with high Myc. bovoculi prevalence are more predisposed to outbreaks of IBK, possibly due to a synergistic interaction with Moraxella spp.