An outbreak of Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) in commercial turkeys involving very mild clinical signs was difficult to confirm by routine methods. In the first part of this study (trial A), we conducted a bioassay to increase the likelihood of detecting MG. Susceptible turkeys were inoculated with sinus exudates from four different affected commercial turkey flocks. Turkeys were evaluated for clinical signs, as well as by serology and culture of tracheal swabs, at 21 and 42 days postchallenge. An MG isolate from one of the sinus exudates used for inoculation, designated K5054, was very similar to isolates from house finches when characterized by random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis as well as DNA sequence analysis of portions of the phase-variable putative adhesin protein (pvpA) gene, a lipoprotein gene, and the cytadhesin gapA/mgc1 gene. The turkeys inoculated with the K5054 sinus exudate seroconverted in the absence of severe clinical signs. There was a single reisolation of K5054 from these turkeys 42 days postchallenge. Susceptible contact turkeys were commingled with the K5054-inoculated turkeys at 49 days postchallenge. We found no evidence of transmission of MG to the contacts by culture or serology at 7, 21, or 35 days after commingling. In the second part of this study (trial B), we challenged the contacts and K5054 sinus exudate–inoculated turkeys from trial A with virulent R strain 88 days after the K5054 sinus exudate inoculation. On necropsy 10 days postchallenge, the evaluation of gross and microscopic lesions, serology, and culture showed that the turkeys previously inoculated with K5054 sinus exudate were protected against disease and reinfection.
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Vol. 47 • No. 3