The appearance of the novel porcine haemotrophic mycoplasma (HM) species ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemosuis’ was reported in apparently healthy but also in clinically sick animals in China, Korea and in a case report from Germany. Outside of Asia, however, nothing further is known about the frequency of ‘Ca. M. haemosuis’ in pigs to date. To investigate the distribution of this novel HM species in Germany, fattening pigs, sows and pre-suckling piglets were examined using a herein developed quantitative real-time PCR assay (qPCR). Because the piglets were sampled before the first colostrum uptake, additional information on a possible vertical transmission from dams to their offspring was obtained.
Our novel qPCR assay successfully detected ‘Ca. M. haemosuis’ in all blood samples from the ‘Ca. M. haemosuis’-infected pigs. No cross-reactivity was detected when DNA from non-target Mycoplasma spp. and other bacterial species representing 105 bacteria/reaction were used as a template. The lower limit of detection of the qPCR was thus 10 gap gene copies per reaction and 2.5 x 103 genome equivalents (GE) per mL blood.
‘Candidatus M. haemosuis’ was detected by this qPCR in blood samples from a total out of 6.25% sows (13/208), 4.50% pre-suckling piglets (28/622) and 17.50% fattening pigs (35/200). On farm level, 3 out of 21 piglet producing farms (14.28%) and 9 out of 20 fattening farms (45.00%) were positive for ‘Ca. M. haemosuis’. Co-infections with M. suis were evident in all age groups.
‘Candidatus M. haemosuis’ infection is present in German pig farms and the detection of the novel porcine HM species in piglets immediately after birth before colostrum intake indicates vertical transmission. The novel qPCR assay specific for ‘Ca. M. haemosuis’ described herein will be a prerequisite for future studies on the prevalence, epidemiology as well as the clinical and economic impact of ‘Ca. M. haemosuis’ infections.