Contagious caprine pleuropneumonia is a highly fatal disease that occurs in goats in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. It was seen for the first time on European soil in Thrace, Turkey in 2002 but does not appear to have spread to neighboring countries, Greece and Bugaria. Outbreaks have recently been reported in sheep and captive wildlife including gazelles and small ruminants.
Mycoplasma capricolum capripneumoniae (Mycoplasma biotype F38) is the causative agent. It appears to be transmitted by infective aerosol. Morbidity can be 100%, and mortality 60–100%. The disease is introduced into a new region by clinically healthy carriers. Gathering or housing animals together facilitates spread of the disease.
Pneumonia and pleuropneumonia can be caused by other mycoplasmas, including M mycoides capri. Taxonomic change means that this subspecies now also includes M mycoides mycoides large colony type. Morbidity and mortality rates are generally lower with M mycoides capri, and joint and udder infections may also be seen.
Weakness, anorexia, cough, hyperpnea, and nasal discharge accompanied by fever (104.5–106°F [40.5–41.5°C]) are often found. Exercise intolerance and eventually respiratory distress, including open-mouth breathing and frothy salivation, develop. A septicemic form of the disease without specific respiratory tract involvement has been described.
The lesions are confined to the thorax. Typically, this contains an excess of straw-colored fluid, and there is acute fibrinous pneumonia with overlying fibrinous pleurisy. Consolidation is sometimes confined to one lung. The distention of interlobular septa by serofibrinous fluid, which is commonly seen in infections caused by M mycoides capri, is rarely seen in contagious caprine pleuropneumonia.
The clinical signs, epidemiology, and necropsy findings are used to establish a diagnosis. The causative organism should be isolated and identified, but isolation may be difficult and special media is required for culture. PCR, which can be carried out directly on the pleural fluid or affected lung, has greatly facilitated the diagnosis of contagious caprine pleuro-pneumonia. Serologic tests are complement fixation, passive hemagglutination, and ELISA; the latex agglutination test can be carried out in the field directly on whole blood as well as serum samples in the laboratory. Serologic cross-reactions may occur with other members of the Mycoplasma mycoides cluster.
Quarantine of affected flocks is desirable. Vaccines are available in some countries, and good to excellent protection has been reported. Treatment with tylosin at 10 mg/kg, IM, sid for 3 days, has been effective, as has oxytetracycline (15 mg/kg). In the USA, use of these drugs may constitute extra-label use, requiring a valid veterinary-client relationship and appropriate withdrawal times for slaughter purposes.
Last full review/revision March 2012 by Michelle Kopcha, DVM, MS