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Tornquist SJ, Boeder LJ, Cebra CK, Messick J: Am J Vet Res. 2009 Sep;70(9):1102-7. Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
OBJECTIVE: To develop a PCR assay for Candidatus Mycoplasma haemolamae (CMhl) infection in alpacas and use it to study the efficacy of oxytetracycline treatment and development of a subclinical carrier state.
ANIMALS: 8 healthy adult alpacas.
PROCEDURES: Alpacas initially had negative results for CMhl in blood samples via PCR assay and were experimentally infected with CMhl; 4 were treated with oxytetracycline, and 4 were not treated. All were monitored regularly via PCR assay, blood smear examination, PCV, rectal temperature, and physical examination. At 6 months after treatment, all alpacas were immunosuppressed by administration of dexamethasone and tested for CMhl.
RESULTS: 7 of 8 alpacas had positive PCR assay results 4 to 6 days after experimental infection. When organisms were detectable on a blood smear, they were seen 2 to 6 days after positive results of PCR assay. Infection was often associated with mild anemia that was usually transient. No alpacas became hypoglycemic. Oxytetracycline treatment was not associated with faster clearance of organisms or resolution of anemia, and 4 of 4 treated alpacas still had positive results of PCR assay when immunosuppressed 6 months later; 0 of 3 nontreated alpacas had positive results of PCR assay following immunosuppression. Transient fever was detected in 3 alpacas during immunosuppression.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The PCR assay was more sensitive than blood smear examination for detection of infection. Clinical signs, anemia, and fever were not necessarily associated with infection. Oxytetracyline administration did not consistently clear CMhl infection. Although treated with oxytetracycline, infected alpacas remained chronic carriers.