During an epidemic of mycoplasmosis in chicken and turkey flocks in North Carolina between 1999 and 2001, isolates of Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) from affected flocks were characterized by random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD), and eight distinct RAPD types were identified. MG RAPD type B accounted for more than 90% of the isolates and was associated with moderate-to-severe clinical signs and mortality. The virulence of MG RAPD type B for chickens and turkeys was compared with sham-inoculated negative controls and MG S6 (a virulent strain)-inoculated positive controls. Clinical signs occurred in chickens and turkeys inoculated with either MG RAPD type B or MG S6. However, they were not as frequent or severe as those seen in naturally affected flocks, and there was no mortality in the experimental groups. Based on gross and microscopic findings, MG RAPD type B was equal to or more virulent than MG S6. All MG-inoculated birds were culture and PCR positive at 7 and 14 days postinoculation (PI). Among serological tests, the serum plate agglutination test was positive for the majority of chickens and turkeys (58%–100%) infected with either strain of MG at both 7 and 14 days PI. The hemagglutination inhibition test was negative for all birds at 7 days PI and positive for a few chickens (8%–17%) and several turkey sera (40%–60%) at 14 days PI. Only a single serum was positive by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (an MG S6-infected turkey) at 14 days PI.
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Vol. 51 • No. 1