Increase in Mycoplasma gallisepticum and use of molecular typification


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Increase in Mycoplasma gallisepticum and use of molecular typification


Remco Dijkman

The Mycoplasma gallisepticum (Mg) bacterium is very damaging for poultry health and poses a severe threat to the economic profitability of the poultry sector. All types of poultry can be affected by this bacterium. There has been an organised approach to Mg for some years.

Senior researcher Remco Dijkman has the following to say: “Mg causes severe respiratory issues, among other things, and can be transferred from maternal parent stock to offspring. Breeding poultry must therefore be culled in the event of an Mg infection. Eggs and offspring are not suitable for sale. Infected layer and meat poultry farms are permitted to treat their animals and complete the circle. However, this will entail extra costs, increased losses and lower production.

Mutual risk

Thanks to risk analyses and strain typification studies, we know that the various types of poultry form a mutual risk for each other. Mg is contagious for chickens, turkeys and hobby animals. The density of the animals is also a factor for disease spread. Thanks to the Dutch approach, there have been few outbreaks in recent decades. However, a number of farms in the Weert and Someren regions became infected with Mg in late 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, including meat turkey farms, layer farms and breeding farms.

Insight into outbreaks

The poultry veterinarians in question submitted Mg samples and necropsy material for molecular testing. We then set to work unravelling the epidemiology of these outbreaks. GD has been typifying Mg samples for many decades. Molecular typification helps us gain insight into the source of contamination. We combine the molecular typification data with other epidemiological and serological data, while also examining the time path and geography of the outbreaks. By combining all this information, we hope to gain insight into the source, in order to prevent further spread.

Molecular typification

The genetic patterns show us which strains are mutually related. In the event of a new outbreak, we map out the genome and compare it with those in our database. If the same strain continually circulates within a sector or poultry integration, the biosafety in the chain may require attention. When a new variant puts in an appearance, it may have been introduced from an external source, therefore requiring attention for biosafety at the farm level. And so molecular typification can assist veterinarians and farmers in their approach and in their risk evaluation. All of the 2021 and 2022 outbreaks were caused by the same (new) variant of Mg. As the same genotype was continuously found in the same densely populated poultry region, there is a risk of a persistent Mg outbreak. Such regional strains are difficult to combat. The genotyping of Mg strains upon new outbreaks remains important in order to retain insight into the epidemiology of outbreaks, and to prevent the further spread of Mg.”

More information Mycoplasma

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