BACKGROUND: Hemotropic mycoplasmas (aka hemoplasmas) are small bacteria which cause infectious anemia in several mammalian species including humans. Information on hemoplasma infections in Cuban bovines remains scarce and no studies applying molecular methods have been performed so far. The aim of the present study was to utilize real-time PCR and sequence analysis to investigate dairy cattle and buffalo from Cuba for the presence of bovine hemoplasma species.
RESULTS: A total of 80 blood samples from 39 buffalo and 41 dairy cattle were investigated for the presence of Mycoplasma wenyonii and "Candidatus Mycoplasma haemobos" using two species-specific real-time TaqMan PCR assays. PCR results revealed overall 53 (66.2%; 95% CI: 55.3-75.7%) positive animals for M. wenyonii and 33 (41.2%; 95% CI: 31.1-52.2%) for "Ca. M. haemobos"; the latter were all co-infections with M. wenyonii. The sample prevalences were similar in cattle and buffalo. Based on the sequence analysis of the nearly full-length 16S rRNA gene from two cattle and two buffalo, the presence of M. wenyonii and "Ca. M. haemobos" was confirmed. Statistical analysis revealed that buffalo and cattle one year of age or older were more frequently infected with M. wenyonii or "Ca. M. haemobos" than younger animals. PCR-positivity was not associated with anemia; however, the infection stage was unknown (acute infection versus chronic carriers).
CONCLUSIONS: The high occurrence of bovine hemoplasma infections in buffalo and dairy cattle may have a significant impact on Cuban livestock production. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first molecular evidence of bovine hemoplasma species infection in dairy cattle and buffalo from Cuba and the Caribbean.