From July 1999 to November 2001, Mycoplasma sp. was cultured from lesions in 16 California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) undergoing rehabilitation. The Mycoplasma sp. was the likely cause of death of four animals in which it was associated with either pneumonia or polyarthritis. The most common lesion associated with this bacterium was subdermal abscessation, found in 12 animals. Other lesions included intramuscular abscesses, septic arthritis, and lymphadenopathy. Infection was associated with a leukocytosis and left shift in 12 animals. Animals with abscesses improved clinically after surgical lancing, irrigation, and systemic antibiotic therapy. The mycoplasma isolates had a consistent 16S rRNA sequence dissimilar from other Mycoplasma spp. and represent a novel species, Mycoplasma zalophi proposed sp. nov.
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