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RESPIRATORY disease in small ruminants is a cause of large financial losses worldwide. Goats are highly susceptible to a number of mycoplasmas, particularly Mycoplasma capricolum subspecies capripneumoniae and other mycoplasmas of the Mycoplasma mycoides cluster (Lefevre and others 1987, Nicholas 2002). Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae is known to play an important role in the aetiology of chronic, non-progressive pneumonia of sheep, and is a predisposing factor for bacterial or viral infections (Nicholas and others 2008a, b). There are several mechanisms involved in the pathogenicity of M ovipneumoniae; alterations in macrophage activity (Niang and others 1997), adherence of the organism to ciliated epithelium by its polysaccharide capsule (Niang and others 1998a), induction of the production of autoantibodies to the ciliary antigen (Niang and others 1998b) and suppressive activity on lymphocytes (Shahzad and others 2010) are some important factors that contribute to disease in sheep.
In contrast to the situation in sheep, the role of M ovipneumoniae in the aetiology of pneumonia in goats is not well understood. The results of experimental infections are equivocal. According to some studies (Goltz and others 1986), M ovipneumoniae is pathogenic to goats, but the results of other experiments are inconclusive (Martrenchar and others 1995). There are only a few reports of the isolation of M ovipneumoniae from goats with …
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