Mycoplasma gallisepticum was isolated from several turkey flocks at different locations in the United States that were clinically affected with respiratory disease. Five of these isolates from four series of outbreaks had patterns similar to the 6/85 vaccine strain of M. gallisepticum by random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis using three different primer sets, whereas with a fourth primer set (OPA13 and OPA14), only two of the isolates were similar to 6/85. Results obtained by sequencing portions of the pvpA, gapA, and mgc2 genes and an uncharacterized surface lipoprotein gene indicated that the field isolates had DNA sequences that ranged from 97.6% to 100%, similar to the 6/85 results. In some of the outbreaks there was an indirect association with the presence of commercial layers in the area that had been vaccinated with this vaccine strain, but there was no known close association with vaccinated birds in any of the outbreaks. Turkeys were challenged with two of the field isolates and with 6/85 vaccine strain. Turkeys challenged with the field isolates developed respiratory disease with airsacculitis and a typical M. gallisepticum antibody response, whereas birds challenged with 6/85 developed no respiratory signs or lesions and developed only a weak antibody response. Although these isolates were very similar to the 6/85 vaccine strain, it was not possible to prove that they originated from the vaccine strain—it is possible that they could be naturally occurring field isolates.
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Vol. 48 • No. 3