Mycoplasmosis in Dogs
Mycoplasmosis is the general medical name given to a disease caused by any one of three infectious agents: mycoplasma, t-mycoplasma or ureaplasma, and acholeplasma. Each of these agents is an anaerobic bacterial parasitic microorganism. They are capable of living and growing even without the presence of oxygen (anaerobic), and are able to self produce.
Mycoplasma lack a true cell wall, making them capable of assuming a variety of shapes, and capable of spreading into different systems throughout the body, from the respiratory tract, where they can cause pneumonia, to the urinary tract, where they can result in various forms of diseased conditions. These bacteria are believed to be the smallest organisms capable of growing independently, and they remain ubiquitous in nature; they are found in nearly every environment, causing disease not only in animals, but also in people, plants, and insects.
Symptoms and Types
Symptoms of mycoplasmosis includes simultaneous inflammation of several joints (known as polyarthritis), such as the knees, ankles, hips, or shoulders. Long-term lameness, difficulty moving, fever, and general signs of discomfort are some of the typical signs. Other signs may include squinting or spasmodic blinking, fluid-buildup in the eyes, reddened eyes, discharge from the eyes, or conjunctivitis, a condition in which the moist tissue of the eye becomes inflamed. Respiratory symptoms are usually mild, with sneezing being the main complaint.
In dogs, further signs related to the site of infection may include infections in the respiratory system, or urinary and genital tract infections. Urethritis, vaginitis, prostatitis, nephritis, and cystitis are some of the conditions that may be present. Because of the genital to reproductive system proximity of this bacterial parasite, infertility is a common finding, along with pregnancies that abort or produce weak newborns, result in stillbirth, early death of newborns, or death while in embryo.
Mycoplasmosis is caused by exposure to a number of commonplace bacteria that can be found throughout the environment. Some types of bacteria that lead to mycoplasmosis in dogs include M. canis, M. spumans, and M. maculosum.
Factors that may increase the risk of developing mycoplasmosis include an immunodeficiency disorder that prevents the immune system from functioning properly, as well as other issues that may affect the immune system, such as tumors.
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. A complete blood profile will also be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis.
There are various diagnostic procedures that may be undertaken if the symptoms of mycoplasmosis are present. An analysis of the fluid secreted into the prostate can reveal if normal bacterial cultures are present. The presence of mycoplasmosis will be concurrent with inflammatory cells. If polyarthritis is suspected, an analysis of the synovial fluid, the fluid found in the cavities of certain joints (e.g., knees, shoulders), may be useful. Increased levels of nondegenerative neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, are usually found in this case.
Mycoplasmosis is treated on an outpatient basis, meaning it does not require hospitalization and can be treated at home. Depending on the severity and localization of the condition, antibiotics may be prescribed in order to address the infection.
Living and Management
Treatment at home generally must continue for an extended period of time. Your veterinarian can specifically prescribe the appropriate antibiotic treatment and specify the necessary length of treatment based on an examination of the symptoms. It is important to regularly administer any antibiotic treatment for the full period of time as advised by your veterinarian.
Animals with healthy immune systems that are given proper treatment with antibiotics have a good prognosis and are expected to recover fully.
There are no known vaccines available to prevent infection by the bacteria which cause mycoplasmosis, thus there is little that can be done to prevent infection. The bacteria causing mycoplasmosis may be killed by drying out (for example, via sunshine) as well as chemical disinfection. Your veterinarian can guide you in the selection of products that will work in your environment. General cleanliness and avoidance of extended exposure to moisture may be helpful.