By Barry Whitworth, DVM / Area Food/Animal Quality and Health Specialist for Eastern Oklahoma
Mycoplasma ovis, which was formerly known as Eperythrozoon ovis, is a blood parasite that infects sheep, goats and deer. The organism attaches to the surface of red blood cells. This results in the cell being destroyed by the animal’s immune system. This can lead to anemia, icterus, dark colored urine, and death. Additional problems associated with anemia are weight loss and bottle jaw, which could easily be confused with gastrointestinal parasites, commonly referred to as “worms.”
Most small ruminants infected with the bacterium will not have any clinical signs but become lifelong carriers of the organism. The disease tends to be a greater problem in young, immune naïve, immunocompromised, and pregnant animals. Infections in lambs/kids can result in poor weight gains and stunted growth.
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